La. lawmakers could get hefty pay raise under new proposal by state rep

The people who represent you at the Louisiana State Capitol could be getting a hefty raise.
Published: Mar. 22, 2023 at 10:42 PM CDT

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - The people who represent you at the Louisiana State Capitol could be getting a hefty raise.

State Representative Joe Marino, an Independent from Gretna, filed a bill that would increase the salary of state senators and state representatives from $16,800 a year to $60,000.

“The salary for this job is not competitive to anything that you can do outside of being a legislator, and that’s my concern,” said Marino. “Again, it’s certainly not about Joe Marino.”

This would be the first pay increase for lawmakers in more than four decades.

“It’s been a financial burden every year I’ve been in the legislature. I don’t want to exclude large numbers of people from taking this job or trying to get this job because the salary is just cost prohibitive,” added Marino.

He is not seeking re-election, so this new change would not affect him. He also said lawmakers already get no retirement benefits with the job and the state has the budget for it. He believes the increase could get more ‘regular’ folks to run for office.

“We will end up with a legislature that will be primarily comprised of either retired people or independently wealthy people, and that eliminates a huge percentage of our citizens,” explained Marino.

“I personally think they should look at raising the minimum wage before they look at raising their own pay,” said Chrishona Gravney, a Zachary resident.

“I feel like, if they feel like they’re entitled to have a raise, then everybody else should have a raise as well,” added Dashaun Dotson, a Baton Rouge resident.

Since 2016, Gov. John Bel Edwards has proposed an increase to the $7.25 minimum wage in Louisiana with no success.

“I would think that the governor might say, ‘Look, we’ll meet in the middle - maybe 30 [or] 40,000 a year,” said Jim Engster, a political analyst and president of The Louisiana Radio Network. “But right now, minimum wage in Louisiana pays $15,080 a year. That’s less than lawmakers make and that’s for a 40-hour week, a full-time job.”

While some believe Marino’s views are reasonable about finding a more diverse field of candidates to run, they’re still skeptical.

“I don’t think it would pan out that way,” said Taylor Guidry, a Baton Rouge resident. “That it would be the common folk getting up there, I still think it would be doctors and lawyers.”

“It is long overdue for lawmakers to get a raise. The question is how much and the question is whether it’s palatable in an election year because those that vote for it will be held accountable,” added Engster.

The raises would not go into effect until next year if this bill passes.

The Regular Legislative Session begins in less than three weeks.

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