“I don’t see how you could have this part-time Legislature, cut the pay and still have term limits,” Murray said.
The reality is, if Calley’s proposal makes the 2018 ballot and wins likely support from an angry electorate, the Michigan Legislature will soon be populated with more retirees, wealthy people and young attorneys trying to make partner at their firms.
“How many lawyers really want to spend three months of their lives away from their practice to make $31,000? Not the good ones,” Murray said. “We’re going to get the government we pay for.”
Murray thinks the current $71,685 annual salary for legislators is not enough given the year-round demands involved in a job that can only be held for six years in the House and eight years in the Senate because of voter-imposed term limits.
“I just want to make the job attractive to people,” Murray said. “I don’t think it’s attractive when we tear it down and talk about slashing people’s pay.”
While it’s easy to castigate the Legislature, this is a serious job with serious issues that affect Michigan’s 10 million residents. Reducing the role of the Legislature to part-time status while the other two branches of state government are always on duty will likely diminish the legislative branch.
And limiting the work and compensation of legislators to three months a year ignores the reality that being a representative or senator can be a seven-days-a-week job filled with community meetings, phone calls and constituent issues.