Assemblyman Richard Merkt recently proposed to slash the salaries of New Jersey lawmakers by 10%.However, the Assemblyman is a candidate for the Republican gubernatorial nomination and the proposal could be viewed as an election gimmick. Then again, everything that any lawmaker does can be seen as a election gimmick.
In light of the recent pay raise of federal legislators, Merkt’s proposal is a noble one and worth looking at.
So his point is well taken. Times are tough and our representatives should be willing to make sacrifices and at least pretend to be empathetic to the people whose lives they affect.
Besides, lawmakers are partially responsible for any state’s economy including the one we are currently in here in Jersey so they should be more directly effected. I say they are partly responsibly because not everything is their fault. Nature, world events and human stupidity outside of Trenton politics, all play a part. But our lawmakers are elected to both steer us and our state economy in the right direction and to help our state better cope with the situations that we are dealt.
That being the case, it can easily be said that the current state legislature has not done a good job.
New Jersey has led the way in economic trouble over the past few years and under the direction of Governor Jon Corzine, the state legislature has been ill equipped at handling the situation. In fact, together the Democrat controlled state legislature and Democrat Governor have made matters worse.
Together they raised taxes, increased fees made it harder to do business in New Jersey and expanded opportunities for government corruption.
It could be said that Republicans bare no responsibility for this situation since they do not control any branch of state government. I can agree with that but it still doesn’t get Republicans off the hook.
Both parties have failed the people of New Jersey to one degree or another.
Democrats have failed to do anything right and Republicans have failed at convincing anyone that they could do better.
Given these circumstances, I have a more interesting proposal than Assemblyman Merkt’s.
How about we link state legislative and executive salaries to the economy and taxes of the state that they run.
Currently New Jersey State Assembly members and Senators make $49,000 a year.
I say let us reduce those salaries to a base of $41.000 a year and then use the following standard.
For every percent or portion of a percentage that any given legislature raises income and property taxes, their salaries are decreased by 2%. For every percentage or degree of a percentage that they decrease income and property taxes their salaries can be raise by half of one percent.
For every percent or portion of a percentage that they raise a sales or service tax, their salaries also decrease by that same percentage. Conversely, their salaries can be raised by half a percent for every full percent of a decrease in such taxes.
For any new tax created, their salaries are reduced by 2% plus the equivalent percentage of that new tax.
Every toll increase passed during any legislative session is matched by a reduction in legislative salaries that equal to the percentage of that increase.
And finally, state legislative salaries are further reduced by the same number of percentage points that the state’s unemployment rate is whenever it exceeds 4%.
To make it fair. Newly elected legislators would not be held accountable for the taxes and economic situation that any previous legislative session, which they did not have a hand in, was responsible for, and so they would start with the base pay of 41K.
Of course, such measures would not prevent rich people like Governor Jon Corzine from raising fees and taxes, misappropriating funds and offering sweet heart deals to sweethearts like Carla Katz. After all, Corzine took a $400 million golden parachute from Wall Street and doesn’t even accept his salary for Governor but this system could help to make less well off lawmakers work a little harder to address our problems and to fight the wealthy Governor. Having their own pockets linked to what they pick out of ours could just help to make them finally work together for the benefit of themselves as well as us. Maybe such a pay scale system will help to really create a sense of bipartisanship?
Perhaps if the lawmakers of New Jersey had their financial well being directly linked to the state’s financial well being and our own financial opportunities, maybe tax increases and increased fees for everything from driving to landscaping and joining a gym will be viewed as a last resort. Like it should be.
Perhaps by immediately linking their decisions directly to their own incomes, they may better empathize with the financial impact that they bring to bare on those they are representing .
You could say that it is not fair to those who vote against penalizing taxes or policies that drive businesses away and raise the unemployment in the state. That might be so, but, those who simply voted against something are still culpable. They have more than a responsibility to vote against such measures. They have the responsibility of leadership and the responsibility of making their case and doing it so well that a preponderance of people in the state as well as the legislature are persuaded by their arguments. They must convince people why others are wrong and they are right. Failing to do so is a failure that they share in common with those who support regressive economic policies.
So Assemblyman Merkt’s proposed 10 % reduction in salary is nice.
It is certainly going in a direction far better than the 2.8% pay increase that Congress is willing to take, at of all times, now. But the gesture Merkt is making could be made more meaningful and be more enduring. By linking legislative salaries to their actions we are adding a new incentive to politics and a new level of innovation……..political merit pay. If you do a good job and keep a good economy going you get paid better.
Is this crazy?
Maybe it is. Maybe it is as far fetched as a State Senator taking money from a no show job given to him by a school funded with state money that the same State Senator helped procure with tax payer dollars that he helped get through the state legislature. Maybe this political merit pay scale sounds just as crazy as that same corrupt State Senator getting his state funded pension after ripping the state off and being convicted.
But just like former *Senator Wayne Bryant, it may sound crazy but it could be true if like Wayne Bryant, we just did it.
*Wayne Bryant pressured officials of University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey to create a no-show job that allowed him to lobby himsef’ for taxpayer funds. Bryant also chaired the Senate Appropriations comittee which Funneled large sums of taxpayers dollare to UMDNJ.
REPEAL THE CONGRESSIONAL PAY HIKE
Pass The Link On To Family, Friends and Co-workers
AND DON’T FORGET………….
BE SURE TO SIGN THE PETITION URGING THE NOMINATION
OF SENATOR BECK FOR LT. GOV.
I was talking to a friend of mine’s little girl the other day.
I asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up and she replied,
“I want to be President!”
Both of her parents are liberal Democrats and were standing there. So then I asked her, “If you were President what would be the first thing you would do?”
She replied, “I’d give houses to all the homeless people.”
“Wow – what a worthy goal.” I told her, “You don’t have to wait until you’re President to do that. You can come over to my house and mow, pull weeds, and sweep my yard, and I’ll pay you $50. Then I’ll take you over to the grocery store where this homeless guy hangs out, and you can give him the $50 to use toward a new house.”
Since she is only 6, she thought that over for a few seconds. While her Mom glared at me, she looked me straight in the eye and asked,
“Why doesn’t the homeless guy come over and do the work, and you can just pay him the $50?”
And I said, “Welcome to the Republican Party.”
Her folks still aren’t talking to me.
Submitted by Dick, Williamsport, Md