With an estimated $820 million surplus flowing into state coffers thanks to higher oil prices, Louisiana legislators think it’s an appropriate time for them to get raises. Yesterday Senate Bill 672 , which would triple the pay of legislators from $16,800 to $50,700, passed through the Senate Finance Committee unopposed. The bill would also double the current annual expense allowance from $6,000 to $12,000. (Lawmakers’ daily per diem of $143 during legislative sessions would stay at its current level.)
The bill now moves to the Senate, where it should spark intense debate — especially since the House Appropriations Committee just stripped $120 million in education and health care spending from the budget.
Besides lawmakers, there’s at least one vocal supporter of the bill. From today’s Advocate :
Baton Rouge lobbyist Randy Haynie spoke out on behalf of the pay raises Monday. “I do not believe the public is aware of the hours you put in as public servants,” Haynie told the committee members.
Ah, what altruism and concern from Haynie — the man dubbed “Louisana’s super-lobbyist ,” the legislative point man for corporations including AT&T, GE, Pfizer and Philip Morris USA . “Organizations like these understand what’s at stake when their interests come before the Louisiana Legislature,” says Haynie’s Web site. “Time and again, they choose Haynie & Associates to make sure their goals are met.”
Haynie would be a perfect lobbyist for a dairy and bakery company — he knows the importance of buttering both sides of his bread.