DOVER — Democratic and Republican lawmakers joined together in calling for the House and Senate to reject a state panel’s recommendations of higher salaries for legislators, judges and high-ranking state officials.
Fifty of the 62 lawmakers in the General Assembly signed on as co-sponsors to a resolution introduced Wednesday to reject the recommendations of the Delaware Compensation Commission.
Lawmakers say the pay raises are ill-advised at a time when the state officials have said Delaware is facing a budget shortfall of about $350 million.
House Speaker Pete Schwartzkopf, D-Rehoboth Beach, said it would be wrong to issue such raises to select employees while the state has an uncertain financial future.
“While I understand how important it is to attract and retain a talented workforce, issuing raises to select state officials is absolutely the wrong thing to do at this time,” he said. “It is unfair to the many hardworking state employees who have continually done more with fewer resources and have not seen the raises they deserve. The Joint Finance Committee should be the forum to discuss pay raises to state workers.”
House Minority Leader Danny Short, R-Seaford, said, “The commission did the job they were mandated to do. Now we must act responsibly and set aside those recommendations. This is a good first step in the bipartisan action we’ll need to close the expected budget gap.”
Under state law, the commission’s recommendations take effect automatically unless lawmakers vote them down in their entirety.
The recommendations include higher salaries and expense allowances for legislators, higher salaries for statewide elected officials except the governor, and pay raises for judges and several cabinet posts.
Under the proposal, legislators would see their salaries rise from $45,291 to $46,197, while the expense allowance given to each member would increase from $7,334 to $8,000. Supplements provided to legislators who serve on key committees or in leadership roles — about half of the 62 members in total — would also increase by between $3,205 and $768, depending on the role.
All other elected officials save for the governor would get 2 percent more in salary.
The lieutenant governor’s salary would increase from $80,239 to $81,844, and the auditor and insurance commissioner would see their pay rise from $110,667 to $112,880. The treasurer would make $117,894 instead of $115,582, and the attorney general would earn $150,851 instead of $147,893.