The story in Sunday’s paper, June 15, read different, and The Gazette regrets the error. We have apologized to LeBas for this error, which was a human error when we were gathering information from the Internet and other media outlets for this story.
The proposed legislation to increase legislative pay has caused much controversy, because the initial bill suggested increasing legislators’ base pay from $16,800 to $50,700, which tripled their pay. After the bill went through the house, lawmakers proposed cutting the raise from $16,800 to $37,500, which increased it by $20,700. The house voted 56-45 in favor of the bill, but Representative LeBas voted against this measure. He did speak to the paper about the vote, and said he had received a lot of negativity about the proposed vote before it was taken in the house. He chose to vote against the increase.
The media and the public have been outspoken about this proposed increase. Governor Bobby Jindal said he will not veto the measure. In a statement on Monday, the governor said, “I’m very sorry to see the legislature do this. More than doubling legislative pay is not reasonable, and the public has been very clear on that.
“I will keep my pledge to let them govern themselves and make their own decisions as a separate branch of government. I will not let anything, even this clearly excessive pay raise, stop us from moving Louisiana forward with a clear plan for reform.”
Legislators had not received a pay increase since 1980, and agencies like PAR (Louisiana’s Public Affairs Research Council) agree some increase is reasonable. However, PAR’s Jim Brandt, president, said Senate Bill 672 was not reasonable. In 2003, the Compensation Review Commission studied legislators’ salaries and recommended a flat salary of $41,500 and the elimination of a $6,000 annual unvouchered expense allowance that counts as legislators’ income. At the moment, legislators receive a base pay of $16,800, along with $6,000 annually for unvouchered expense allowances and $15,587 per diem for three legislative sessions, based on a $143 per day payment.
The raises will take effect July 1.