The Mississippi Senate voted to lower lawmaker salaries by 10 percent in light of the state's budget shortfall. First-term state Sen. Giles Ward, a Republican representing Winston, Neshoba and Leake counties, introduced the bill.
The measure passed 39 to 2. It would affect senators, state representatives, the speaker of the House and the lieutenant governor.
“The only difference between these individuals (state employees) and ourselves is that we are in the unique position of exempting ourselves from salary cuts. I submit to you that is not a valid reason. Meager as our salaries may be, we should lead the way and demonstrate to our state employees, school teachers, and taxpayers that we truly understand the problem and are not going to be guilty of saying ‘do as we say’ rather than ‘do as we do’,” Ward said.
Ward said, If adopted, the measure would represent an annual savings of more than $200,000 including Social Security and retirement contributions.
“In these tough economic times the legislature should tighten its belt just as families and businesses all over Mississippi are doing,” said Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant. “I believe as a public servant you should lead by example and that is exactly what we did today.”
The reduction would go into effect Jan. 1, 2011. The Mississippi Constitution prohibits a reduction in salary for legislators during the current session.
The bill now heads to the House of Representatives.