Board votes to boost Oklahoma lawmaker’s pay 35% to $47,500

Board votes to boost Oklahoma lawmaker’s pay 35% to $47,500

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The board that sets the salaries of Oklahoma lawmakers voted Tuesday to boost legislative pay by 35% next year, just two years after cutting lawmakers’ pay.

Jake Lowrey, spokesman for the Office of Management & Enterprise Services, said the Legislative Compensation Board cut legislators’ pay by 8.8% in 2017. Board Chairman Wes Milbourn said at the time that Oklahomans were frustrated with the Legislature.

But since then, the board’s membership has changed.

The new board — appointed by the governor, House speaker and Senate president pro tem — voted 7-2 to authorize the raises from $35,021 to $47,500. The legislators’ first pay raise since 1997 will take effect on Nov. 18, 2020.

The legislative session typically runs for four months.

The board also unanimously approved increases in the stipends paid to lawmakers who serve in leadership positions in the House and Senate. The stipend received by the speaker of the House and Senate president pro tem will rise from $16,354 to $17,932, and the stipends paid to other members of legislative leadership will go from $11,276 to $12,364.

Oklahoma ranks 20th in the nation in the base salaries paid to members of the Legislature who are not in leadership positions, according to a 2018 study of state lawmaker salaries nationwide by the National Conference of State Legislatures.

In addition to their base salary, Oklahoma lawmakers receive travel and meal reimbursement and health and retirement benefits that bring their total average compensation to about $54,992, according to information compiled by OMES. The median household income for an Oklahoma family was about $50,000 in 2017, according to U.S. Census Bureau statistics.

In the seven-state region that includes Oklahoma, Colorado increased the base salary of state lawmakers this year from $30,000 to $40,242, according to OMES. Arkansas had a raise in 2015, from $15,869 to $39,400, and Missouri’s last salary raise was in 2009 to $35,915.

States with the highest state lawmaker salaries are California with a base salary of $110,459 and New York with a base salary of $110,000.

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