In a comment earlier this summer on social media, Cynthia Browning said I had voted for a legislative pay raise.
First of all, I voted no. And there’s an interesting story behind that vote, too.
The legislative pay issue came up on June 24 as part of H.961, the budget for the first three quarters of FY21. The so-called “Pay Act” was part of that larger, important bill bill.
The Pay Act was actually a process vote — a provision that would tie future legislative pay raises to the pay earned by statewide elected officers, like the Governor and Lt. Governor. Although it wouldn’t take effect until July 2021, next summer, it didn’t feel right to me to be debating it, or voting on it, during the pandemic and our state’s financial crisis, when I was working hard to help so many constituents and businesses who were struggling financially.
So when the pay provision came to the floor as a stand-alone amendment, I voted no. You can look up that roll-call vote on the General Assembly website or read the article in the Bennington Banner on June 24.
When the larger bill moved forward — the budget for the first three quarters of the fiscal year, I did vote yes. It’s not my style to cast a protest vote — to vote against funding the budget for the entire state of Vermont for July, August and September — over something like that. The bill passed 133 to 6, with Rep. Browning among the 6 who voted against funding the state’s operations.
For context: Legislators earn about $14,000 in salary for our work during a typical six-month session (not including expenses). We’re not paid for the significant time we invest in constituent service, attending meetings, reading and research during the rest of the year.