I briefly touched on this vote in yesterday’s blog. House Joint Resolution 6 (HJR-6) change the compensation structure for state legislators.
I know that the local press is portraying this as the legislature voted a pay raise for themselves, but here is the rest of the story.
First, I have inoculated myself from complaints about this because I previously voted against a pure pay raise for the city council when I was on the city council. So, this issue was not about money.
Second, as I reviewed the previous accounting practices for the way that state legislators were ‘compensated’ there were numerous red flags that went up. There were so many problems with the previous system, that I have been comparing it to the accounting and finance system from the early days of Eagle Mountain. That system was so convoluted it had to have been set up to avoid accountability and was designed to line someone’s pockets without oversight.
I think that the previous system was set up by legislators along the Wasatch Front so that they could put extra money into their pockets that could not be tracked. It also violated the equal representation of 1 person 1 vote because it unfairly negativily impacted rural legislators and kept them from being equaly compensated so it was harder for them to get to SLC for their meetings.
The simple fact that a legislator could claim an expense without a receipt and get a per-diem that was not reported as income was easily abused.
The new system requires a legitimate receipt to get reimbursed. The new system is taxed. And the new system is fully documented for all to see. These reasons in-and-of-themselves are reasons that the new law appeals to me.
This law should have gone into effect last year, but the Senate kicked the can down the road. I see that as very irresponsible and a sign to me that they did not want to be held accountable for previous abuses of the system.