JEFFERSON CITY- Sen. Kevin Engler, R-Farmington, plans to introduce a concurrent resolution rejecting the recommendations of the Missouri Citizens Commission on the Compensation of Elected Officials to give all judges, statewide elected officials and lawmakers significant pay raises.
In November, Missouri voters approved Amendment 7, which seemingly aimed to prohibit pension payments for judges and statewide elected officials who have been convicted of a felony. But shrouded in the middle of the ballot text, and completely absent from the ballot summary, was language allowing legislators to give elected officials, including themselves, pay increases without being held accountable.
&#8220I am not one for going against the will of the people, but in this case, I feel the people were misled to believe they were voting for a good change in public policy,” Engler said. &#8220It is my duty as a state senator to ensure that the best interests of taxpayers are not undermined.”
The Missouri Citizens Commission on the Compensation of Elected Officials recently approved a plan to increase judges’ salaries by $1,200, plus 4 percent, beginning July 1, 2007, and the same increase for legislators beginning Jan. 1, 2009. The commission also recommended that judges and elected officials receive whatever pay increase other state employees are given in the future. The plan takes effect unless rejected before Feb. 1 by a two-thirds vote of the Legislature.
&#8220Many of my colleagues and I had hoped that the commission would issue two separate recommendations, one for judges and one for elected officials,” Engler said. &#8220I support a pay raise for judges because a good attorney can make so much more in private practice, making it often difficult to attract judges to the bench.”
But when it comes to state lawmakers and other elected officials, Engler believes they are first and foremost public servants.
&#8220People should be drawn to an elected office by the desire to serve others, not by the pay,” Engler said.
The proposed pay raises are expected to cost state taxpayers approximately $3.15 million annually, if Engler’s resolution does not receive the necessary support of two-thirds of Senate and House members.