Legislators listen to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's budget address. Jacqueline Rabe Thomas / CTMirror.org
The House of Representatives debates legislation

The Connecticut legislators are paid a salary of $28,000.  The state provides $5,500 yearly to senators and $4,500 to representatives for expenses they don’t have to document.

If Connecticut had kept the legislators’ salaries concurrent with the inflation rates, the legislators salaries would now be $35,500 — but they are not – they are still at $28,000.  The Connecticut salaries for legislators were low 13 years ago — and they are even lower in buying power now.  Over the past 13 years, inflation rates have totaled 27 percent,  meaning that the  salaries of $28,000 now have a real worth today of $20,500.
The Massachusetts legislature is considered “full time” and their legislators are considered to be giving 100 percent of their time to the business of the state. The Massachusetts legislators receive a salary of  $62,500.
The Connecticut legislature is considered to be “part time” and the Connecticut legislators are considered to be giving 74 percent of  their time to the state.  Calculating what Connecticut salaries should be compared to Massachusetts, Connecticut salaries would be $46,250, however, Connecticut salaries are not anywhere near that amount — they are still at $28,000.
To calculate Connecticut legislative salaries another way, we can look at what their actual hourly rate of pay is. The Connecticut legislature is considered to be a “part time” legislature with legislators spending 74 percent of their time given to the workings of the state, and that represents 38 weeks of the 52-week year. With a five- day work week, that represents 190 work days. With a work day being eight hours, that amounts to 1,520 hours. Using those calculations, the Connecticut legislators are earning $18 an hour.
Because we know many legislators are called back during special sessions and because many have to work with their constituents at off legislative times — Connecticut legislators actually work more hours than those calculated and therefore the hourly wage of many legislators is probably even less than $18 an hour.
Whatever the fiscal issues Connecticut faces — 13 years is an unconscionable amount of time to not give our legislators a raise — especially when their salaries were low to begin with. To reiterate a point, calculating the inflation rates over the past 13 years, the legislators’ salary set 13 years ago at $28,000  is now worth $20,500.   Something needs to be done.
Nancy Alderman is President of Environment and Human Health, Inc.

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20 Comments

  1. No one in CT feels bad for the legislators. If they want a raise, they need to cut cut cut the budget first. Then give me back some of my money. We here the private citizens are taxed enough.

  2. I guess there is no longer an altruistic motive behind serving in the legislature and representing the interests of your constituents.

    Seems to me there’s a bit of a conflict of interest in getting paid to do what was originally intended to be a public service.

    I recognize society has evolved, and that the burden of being involved in government has changed, but politicians today seem to be more focused on elections rather than on what the role really should entail.

    No solutions suggested here – just some musings on the overall situation.

  3. First, this is public service. Many of the people in the general assembly are already successful and this is not intended to be a career. Let’s also remember that some are there for very selfish reasons, either representing interests they are connected to or to advance their personal political ambitions. Finally, look at the fruits of their labor. One fiscally irresponsible move stacked on top of another and neither the will or guts to make difficult decisions. By my estimation they are the most overpaid political body in the nation because “Connecticut, The Business” is a failing entity and they have done little to nothing to correct that.

  4. Do Connecticut legislators receive free health insurance? Do they receive gas/mileage reimbursement? Do you they qualify for state employee penisons? Please do tell, Nancy. Many have stated the need for a unicameral legislature and I agree. When we have one, then let’s give the legislators a raise. As an aside, how many more laws do we need? Many, if not most, are not enforced anyways…

  5. These clowns have done enough damage working part-time. We definitely don’t want them working full time and they don’t deserve a raise based on their performance. Full time legislators are a disaster without very short term limits. Look at Washington. They become professional corrupt legislators. I’ve got an idea. Limit their terms to 2 years, provide a reasonable full time salary, and guarantee their previous job will be there at the end of their term (like national guardsman).

  6. No one in CT feels bad for the legislators. If they want a raise, they need to cut cut cut the budget first. Then give me back some of my money. We here the private citizens are taxed enough.

  7. I guess there is no longer an altruistic motive behind serving in the legislature and representing the interests of your constituents.

    Seems to me there’s a bit of a conflict of interest in getting paid to do what was originally intended to be a public service.

    I recognize society has evolved, and that the burden of being involved in government has changed, but politicians today seem to be more focused on elections rather than on what the role really should entail.

    No solutions suggested here – just some musings on the overall situation.

    1. Well, that’s just it. A lot of these legislators are helping themselves in the legislation they write and pass, and, as you say, have a clear conflict of interest. Take for example the House speaker Joe Aresimowicz who also works for AFSCME (a public employee’s union).

  8. Look to New Hampshire. Since they joined the Union in the 1790’s, all of their legislators get a $100 honorarium. That’s it! No pension or Cadillac medical coverage like our legislators, who qualify for both of those bennies after only 10 years of service! What other “part-time job” on this earth can qualify you for a pension and medical benefits for you and your spouse for life? Note that New Hampshire also has no income tax or sales tax and when you travel up there it certainly does NOT look like Appalachia. No state budget deficit either! Special interests in Connecticut troll legislators who need re-election to get their pension qualifying years. The result? Money not in the public interest gets appropriated and deficits run amok. Also, it should be noted that mileage reimbursement money for Connecticut legislators gets added into their salary to create a bigger base for pension calculating purposes and, get this, if a Connecticut legislator hitches a ride to the capitol with someone else, that legislator can still get mileage reimbursement and use that for their pension base. So, although CT legislators have not been giving themselves a pay raise, they have been slipping mileage reimbursement money through the back door to enhance their ridiculous pension benefits.

    1. Excellent point! Not only should mileage reimbursements (or any other reimbursement) be figured into pensions, neither should overtime pay for other employees (State or municipal) be figured into pensions. Both of those things would go a long way to decreasing the pension liabilities, which should be calculated on base salary only. But our legislators don’t have the backbone to even discuss that.

  9. Nobody forced them to campaign for the positions.
    (notice I didn’t say do the work)

    1. The legislature wastes a lot of time on item of minute importance while kicking the can down the road on the big issues of unfunded liabilities, the business climate, and fiscal problems.

  10. The system is outdated from colonial times. Today’s issues are too complex, and the legislative session is too short.

  11. So let me get this straight: The author believes that legislators’ salaries should now be $35,500. But with salaries of $28,000 plus expenses (no documentation required — who else gets that kind of benefit?) of $5,500 and $4,500 for senators and representatives, respectively, that comes out to $33,500 and $32,500 — pretty close to the $35,500. For most of us working-class folks, our salary is our salary, and we pay our expenses out of that salary. And if they want that alleged $18/hour wage to go up, they can do two things: (1) spend fewer hours debating nonsense and talking for the sake of hearing their own voices, and stick to the basics of what they are elected to do; and (2) make more sensible and responsible decisions, get Connecticut on track, stop trying to find new and improved ways of getting more money from us, and keep their noses out of stuff that’s not their job (like mandating what should be taught in our schools). Maybe then they will earn a raise in salary.

  12. There is something here…… and I do not have any solution to recommend ….. but the current status is not working so maybe this is a place to start looking. Our state needs professional, conservative, realistic leadership. The current system is not providing it. While many of the folks who choose to run for office have the best intentions going in, they quickly get swallowed up by the system. Maybe it is time to roll a bunch of reforms into one: Term Limits – encourage more people to step up for the public good. No chance for public pension. Optional 401k contributions. Pay them on merit – deliver a balanced budget earn the base pay. Deliver a budget with reduced taxpayer burden along with a balanced budget, get token bonus. Do it all in current dollars without passing on costs to future generations and without any financial engineering, get a bigger bonus. JUST DO THE RIGHT THING FOR CONNECTICUT TAXPAYERS. Something has to give and if this is a start, let’s get after it.

  13. With a decade long stagnant CT economy amidst the nations’ strongest post-War recovery CT’s part time Legislators are reluctant to ask for more. A far better solution calls for full time Legislators well versed in economics and finance earning good pay with support staffs earning the praise of CT voters.

  14. With a decade long stagnant CT economy amidst the nations’ strongest post-War recovery CT’s part time Legislators are reluctant to ask for more. A far better solution calls for full time Legislators well versed in economics and finance earning good pay with support staffs earning the praise of CT voters.

    1. I agree. To date, Connecticut’s General Assembly has done nothing to deserve a pay raise. Nothing. Give them a performance bonus paid out of excess revenue when the economy is finally growing, the budget is honestly balanced, and liabilities are funded.

  15. The way that CT compensates legislators limits the diversity of people who end up in office. There are only a limited number of people who can afford to run for office and serve; the position requires more time that most employers will allow away from a full-time job but the salary is not enough to support an individual (no less a family), which means we end up with a narrow selection of people who are representing us and making decisions for the state. The more we can do to allow for and encourage more people to run, the better.

  16. It needs to be full-time, smaller and unicameral…and they need to be held accountable with term limits. We don’t need soccer moms, utility lawyers, doctors and small business owners. We need full time, 365 day a year politicians. How can anything ever get better with an unqualified group that has no accountability and only shows up 3-5 months of the year? The obvious answer is never…which is what the lobbyists and special interests want

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