Oklahoma Lawmakers Are Getting A Ridiculous 35% Pay Raise…

It’s a good day to be an Oklahoma lawmaker!

In appreciation for the important role they played in turning Oklahoma into a Top 10 utopia that all other state’s strive to be, the people of our fine state have voted to give their humble and virtuous public servants and fighters of the common good – Oklahoma lawmakers – a well-deserved 35-percent pay raise.

Wait. Let me start that over.

Earlier this week, a group of cronies chosen by Oklahoma’s now buddy-buddy Legislative and Executive branches voted to give Oklahoma lawmakers an astronomical 35-percent pay raise.

Here’s how The Oklahoman explains it:

Oklahoma legislators will see a 35% pay bump next year.

The Legislative Compensation Board voted Tuesday to boost legislators’ annual pay from $35,021 to $47,500, their first pay raise in 20 years.

Jesus Christ. And I thought that 2.5% cost of living raise I got each year when I worked at KFOR was a big deal. 35-percent raise?! That’s a lot of dicks to… nevermind.

The pay bump comes in stark contrast to the actions the compensation board took two years ago when its members voted to cut legislators’ pay by 8.8%. At the time, board members said the pay cut reflected Oklahomans’ frustration with the Legislature as lawmakers dealt with a budget shortfall amid growing demands for teacher pay raises.

But the board that met Tuesday was comprised of all new members. Some of the new board members, unfamiliar with prior board actions and perhaps the political climate two years ago, questioned why the previous board cut legislator pay at all.

How can you be unfamiliar with the Oklahoma political climate in 2017 and then be appointed to a board that literally oversees Oklahoma legislative salaries? It seems like having some knowledge of local politics would be a prerequisite to serve on a board that oversees legislative salaries.

Regardless, tell us more about this “Legislative Compensation Board.” It’s obviously a diverse mix of individuals from all backgrounds who are representative of all Oklahoma people, right?

The board is made up of non-elected officials appointed by the governor, House Speaker and Senate Pro Tem. The board also has two nonvoting members.

Jonathan Dodson, a board member and Oklahoma City developer, noted legislators hadn’t received pay raises since 1999 and simply adjusting for cost of living changes would require boosting their pay by more than $20,000.

Increasing legislators’ salaries also allows people from different backgrounds to seek elected office, he said.

“We’re really trying to get the brightest from our state to go run and represent us,” he said. “Whether it is a single parent, or they’re in the fire department, they’re retired or it’s their first job, those are the people we’re trying to draw.”

Wow. Can you believe it? The local land developer who has a lot to gain by giving politicians a 35-percent pay raise voted to give politicians a 35-percent pay raise. That kind of makes me miss the good old days when businessmen and other power brokers had to use their own money to win political favor. Now they just have the taxpayers foot the bill!

Seriously, what a weak excuse. Are we really supposed to believe that bumping legislative salary from $35K to $47K is going to convince “the brightest” from our state to suddenly run for public office? If you believe that oversimplified BS that ignores the real reasons people seek public office, then I have some gentrified land on NW 23rd that I’d like to sell you.

Another person who voted to give Oklahoma lawmakers a 35-percent pay raise was local political pundit Scott Mitchell. According to Non Doc – an “independent” political website that takes money from PACs, lobbyists and other special interests, and has openly endorsed pay raises for lawmakers in the past – Mitchell wanted to raise salaries to $52,000 a year! Here he is posing with a couple of his happy lawmaker buddies that he just rewarded with a pay raise:

Yeah, no conflict of interest there. We just have a guy in the media who cozies up to lawmakers for a living voting to give those very same lawmakers a big pay raise. It’s a good thing hardly anyone watches or cares about local political talk shows, or it may damage Mitchell’s credibility.

Only one board member voted against the pay raise – Tyler Media’s Robert DeNegri.

Board Chairman Robert DeNegri, the chief financial officer for Tyler Media, proposed restoring legislator pay to where it was before it was cut and then raising that by roughly 10% to $42,500.

DeNegri, who voted against the 35% pay boost, warned the board Oklahomans would focus on news headlines about increased pay for legislators.

Well, at least someone in the room wasn’t a sellout.

I’ve searched everywhere on the internet to find out the other board members and their votes, but oddly enough, that information doesn’t seem to be readily available anywhere. I guess that’s fine. More transparency in this process would make it much more challenging to give Oklahoma lawmakers an undeserved pay raise.

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39 Responses

  1. I have to disagree with that assessment. Legislators should make decent money, since keeping legislative pay low generally encourages a couple of unhealthy things:
    1) Only those with independent income from somewhere else (i.e., rich people) will find legislative service attractive. Normal middle or lower class people need not apply.
    2) If someone does serve without some independent income, the political goings-on will expect them to live a lifestyle that a low salary will not support. The temptation for accepting bribes will go up.

    1. Get real. An additional $9,000 grand a year or whatever will not change A) who runs for public office, or B) why people run for public office.

    2. I agree with your two points, but I argue that both prior to and after this raise these points were and still are the case. The few state legislators that I know live in houses that suggest a six-figure income. An extra $9,000 a year would mean very little to their standard of living. I wonder why they decided to push for this?

    3. They “work” Monday-Thursday, Feb-May.

      Just saying.

  2. https://missoulian.com/news/national/in-oklahoma-governor-tests-power-of-tribal-gambling/article_b4c29270-26ac-560f-83d7-573df5140d0e.html and that’s all folks

  3. https://missoulian.com/news/national/in-oklahoma-governor-tests-power-of-tribal-gambling/article_b4c29270-26ac-560f-83d7-573df5140d0e.html and that’s all folks…

  4. Way to drain the swamp dear trumpets.
    But then take a look at how Moscow Mitch went from white trash to filthy rich.
    Regulating representative pay is the teen age just-the-tip game.
    Once the panties are on the floor the game has been won by Sir Pimplton Esq. III.
    Gifts of stocks,shares and bonds from lobbyists to lawmakers without expectations of favorable legislation is knocking up your buddies prom date and then being best man at the wedding. But when Jesus blesses it all then everything is right in the kingdom of heaven.

    1. Getting bored with the implication that Democrats don’t do the same things that Republicans do.

      1. +1

      2. We are SO SORRY to have offended you!

      3. Oh they totally do but can you point me to the section of the history book when Oklahoma was run by a bunch of (D)s?

        1. Most of it, the GOP gained legislative control for the second time in state history in 2004. First time was 1921.

        2. It would be in that section concerning the entire history of the state, prior to 2002. You know, when we were a top 10 state in everything.

  5. Remember when the teachers were like, “we really could use some money” and the state was like, “Nah, money is real tight these days”.
    *cut to a year later*
    *Celebrate Good Times C’Mon Plays from inside state capitol*
    *David Holt screams “Big League City!!!’ over and over at the top of his voice while riding atop an empty street car at midnight….*

  6. $47,500?

    Fun facts about legislative pay in other states:

    Texas: $41,500 during a TWO YEAR term.
    Kansas: $88.66 per legislative day x 160 days max in OK = $14,185
    Arkansas: $40,000
    Missouri: $35,918

    Weren’t our legislators considered grossly overpaid the last time their pay was set in 1999? Yes, they were! So is a raise based on inflation justified? How so?

    I never worked for any organization that gave out across-the-board pay raises for merely staying alive. Job performance always figured into compensation at some point. Have our legislators actually been DOING their jobs well enough to deserve a raise… or just keeping their chairs warm? Or have they been doing actual HARM to the State that they represent, passing lots of voided unconstitutional legislation and pissing away our revenue base?

    Come on now! These drones knew what the job paid when they ran for election or re-election. Our low-paid teachers may be fleeing to Kansas or Texas for better pay, but our legislators had it pretty darn good in Oklahoma even before this raise.

    Is there any “Deep State” deeper than Oklahoma?

    1. Perhaps they sent a representative to the board and told them they would all leave the state unless they received a significant raise. Sports teams like to use this when they negotiate for new arenas and stadiums.

      Let us not forget Mayor McSelfie (OKC Mayor David Holt) makes $24,000 a year, and the Tulsa Mayor makes $105,000. Joy Hoffmeister Superintendent of Public Instruction makes $124,373 so it is pretty much a crap shoot as to what the salary is for any elected official.

      Pretty soon the Legislators will start making public statements with their pretend humble Oklahoma twang, about how they didn’t ask for the raise. They will also remind the public that an independent board made that decision. Then things will all go back to normal.

      1. They would all leave the State if they didn’t get a raise?

        I would take that deal in a heartbeat!

      2. So Mick Cornett made $24k/yr for 15 years running what equates to a billion dollar company? That’s insanely low… How did he afford his $515,000 condo in 2015?

    2. Doesn’t per diem and other benefits increase legislator pay? Texas per diem is 190/day and mileage while in session according to Google.

      Even so, that is woefully low.

  7. When I read about this yesterday it made me sick to my stomach.

  8. pssstttt…….teacher salaries are up 73% since 1999. Guess Patrick didn’t wanna throw that nugget in with his rant.

    1. Well, that’s probably because this article was about lawmaker salaries.

      1. True, but a point of reference is always helpful.

    2. Up 73% from a pathetically low level. Those raises were needed to get the teachers’ pay closer to the regional average.

      In other words… nothing to brag about.

      And most people think that our teachers are doing a much better job than our legislators.

  9. I love seeing a bunch of State employees getting raises just for signing on to do the grunt work of a State worker. I mean, most State employees got raises already this year, so these part time elected officials deserve a lil’ somethin’ somethin’.

    From the Tulsa World back in May: “ The measure would provide a pay increase of $1,500 for those earning $40,000 a year or less.

    It would provide a pay increase of $1,250 for those earning more than $40,000 but less than $50,000.

    Those earning $60,000 or more would get a $600 pay hike.

    The Oklahoma Public Employees Association had sought a $5,000 across-the-board pay raise for state employees, said spokesman Tom Dunning.“

    See? Now, it wasn’t an across the board 35% for everyone, just the really hard workers at the Crapitol.

    I’m sure part of the backlash will be toward all OK State employees. Let’s treat em all like sh!t for being overpaid babies. Throw your coins at those toll booth attendants and yell obscenities at the people answering phones at DHS, for they are the new rich and are draining our state’s resources.

    But for the good Lord’s sake, don’t hate on our lawmakers. They EARN that big ol boost in pay.

    This effing state.

    1. I know a state worker for whom this is the last straw. It was advertised that DHS workers were all supposed to get a raise, then it came out it was really only for the entry-level workers. Meanwhile more experienced workers who have higher-and-higher workload with uncompensated on call time, extra unpaid weekend work, you know, you need to “volunteer”, “its for the kids”, more and longer forms just to CYA of the management, etc, get mere crumbs — its rediculous. Top ten in worker turnover that will ultimately cost the State much more!

  10. Teacher salaries up 73% since 1999.

    Man, facts suck sometimes.

    1. At least the teachers are worth it.

    2. FFS dude…show us on the doll where the mean teacher touched you.

  11. In the meantime, those retired folks who dedicated their careers to the state of Oklahoma (Firefighters, policemen, highway patrol workers, teachers, DHS workers, etc) have not received a cost of living boost in going on twelve years now. The legislature keeps putting it off to study it ……… its been studied over and over………

    Nothing like getting rid of the people that voted to cut legislative salaries and then appointing a total new board (who are then somewhat “beholden” to the folks that appointed them).

  12. Pay the legislature what they’re worth………………….NOTHING!!!!!!! PRO BONO!!!!!!

  13. “…their first pay raise in 20 years”. To be fair, after 20 years and using that relatively modest 2.5% annual COLA raise that Patrick got at KFOR, the lawmakers would be looking at a 50% back-raise… and that’s without accounting for 20 years of compounding on an increasing salary.

    Not a great fan of our state lawmakers, but 20 years of salary stagnation does seem a little excessive.

    1. JP – thank you….was traveling for most of yesterday, so catching up on my TLO. It took me until the 30th (or so) comment before someone pointed out what has been glossed over.

      Let’s just look at the math only – take out the people, personalities, job titles, everything. Mind clear? Good. Let’s go.

      Imagine you began working at a company in 1999. Doesn’t matter what your starting salary is….could be anything….minimum wage (wink to my bff circle cat)….six figure income…whatever…again…doesn’t matter.

      So – you’ve been working at that company at that starting wage for 18 years with no increase. Well, at least, I admire your loyalty. Then, after 18 years, you receive an 8.8% reduction in pay. Cost of living from ’99 to ’17 certainly has been getting tougher and tougher to deal with, for sure – even at the same, stagnant salary. That 8.8% pay cut is really going to hurt. Then, two years later, in ’19 – you get that 35% pay raise.

      How many people would stick it out? I wouldn’t. Employment is a two-way street. If you’ve got something to offer, then companies will pay you. If you don’t, they won’t.

      I’m tired of typing. I’m sure there will be lots of people that will respond with, “yeah, but they’re lawmakers….these legislators have run our state into the ground, etc.” To that, I say – good job on clearing your mind at the beginning of this exercise.

      1. Cool story, bro, but with term limits no one has been working as a State Leg that long, so each one “applied” for the job knowing the salary at the time of the election campaign. If they didn’t like the pay they could have chosen to not run. Has there been a lack of candidates?

        Has the minimum wage and wages for all other State employees in Oklahoma been similarly readjusted after years of stagnation, budget cuts, lack of cost-of-living adjustments, and headcount reductions (fewer people doing more work)? Honestly don’t know but I doubt it highly. I don’t work for minimum wage but back in the day, when I was working for min or just above to make money for school it mattered a lot.

  14. A brief history. Voters approved creating this legislative promoted pay scheme in 1968. Pay raises were then infrequent and for the most part unjustified based on work production. The boost to $38,500 in 1999 made sense; enough to attract folks to run; not too much so that people ran JUST for the salary.

    Then came the well deserved 24 year hiatus and finally the pay CUT in 2017. Shortly thereafter the entire purge of board members and their replacement by nine newbies knowing full well they were expected to DELIVER the expected results when they met today as mandated by the Oklahoma Constitution. And brother did they.

    I am not an enemy of decent pay for decent work but the current Republican leadership has worked overtime to punish the lowest paid folks in our state. For examples, they abolished the earned income tax credit specifically written to give a break to our poorest workers and also opposed at every turn a decent increase in the minimum wage, even blocking cities or towns who want to provide an increase to their own employees.

    Compensation board member Scott Mitchell, a lobbyist and fine fellow I’ve known all his life because I served in the legislature with his father, a barber from Lindsey, naturally led the charge for this outrageous 35% handout which will make him the most popular lobbyist in the rotunda for lawmakers. He would be a logical hire for most any business or company looking for influence in the upcoming session. Hard guy to say no to after the pay boost.

    Additionally lawmakers already have the most generous retirement system because it only takes six years to vest into the state system while others need longer. Further the multiplier for those who write the rules is double that allowed for just plain state workers.

    I could go on but most have quit reading this anyway if for no other reason than they have gone to the crapper to throw up. Don’t blame you but after you finish that purge you might begin another more permanent one by replacing your representative or senator if they take this outrageous handout. They can donate it back to the general fund but don’t hold your breath.

    A better idea. Run for the legislature yourself and help repeat what happened in 2018 when nearly 20 of the worst of the bunch were turned out. Added bonus. YOU would be eligible for this nice new salary since it will go into effect within days of you being sworn in and then you can be regularly sworn at for accepting it.

  15. We’ve had to tolerate outrageous pay raises on the Federal level and now we’re supposed to sit still for a $35K annual pay increase for Oklahoma Legislators. Have no problem with COLA adjustment but this is unfathomable. The rest of us get COLA and SSI retirees will get about 1.3%. We have no choice.

  16. And Patrick. Please use a more current picture of the legislature. The one above has Old Witch Sally Kern in it at the front of the house chamber. Just the thought of her return, even if only in a picture, is enough to make most of us want to move to someplace more progressive say like Ukraine or North Korea or join the Freedom Caucus of the United States Congress or become a life member of the NRA or even a Sunday School Teacher in Paul Blair’s Church of the Truly Unhinged.

  17. This is just another ridiculous occurrence from our group of blowhards. You have state workers that for over 10 years never even received a cost of living raise all while their insurance cost were going up every year. So basically getting a pay cut each year. Then they receive some measly raises the last two years that for the most part does not even cover the increase in insurance costs let alone the basic increase in the cost of living. It’s no wonder the morale for state employee’s is in the gutter. They want the state run like private industry then start acting like it!

  18. I always thought tying their pay to state minimum first year teacher pay would have been the quickest pay for teachers to get some pay raises. Now I believe it should be tied to the lowest full-time state salary.

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