Board recommends freezing Oklahoma legislative pay

Tuesday, May 28th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ A freeze on legislative salaries through 2010 was recommended Tuesday by the Legislative Compensation Board.

The vote was 3-2 on a nonbinding resolution by board Chairman Ken Miller, economics professor at Oklahoma Christian University. Miller and the two other board members who supported the freeze are appointees of Gov. Frank Keating.

Voting against the plan were David Lee, Oklahoma City attorney, and Don McCorkell, former House member. Lee and McCorkell were appointed by legislative leaders. Four board members did not attend the special meeting at the Capitol.

McCorkell argued against the plan, saying House and Senate members have a seven-day-a-week job dealing with legislative matters and constituent services.

He said keeping legislative salaries low would lead to a Legislature made up almost exclusively of retirees or young people who otherwise would be in entry-level positions in the private sector.

Lee said the board can only act on legislative salaries in odd-numbered years and it was pointless to consider Miller's proposal.

``I just thought it was not necessary and not authorized by the statue and constitution,'' the Oklahoma City attorney said.

Miller argued the board made a mistake in 1997 when it raised legislative salaries 20 percent to $38,400 a year.

He said Oklahoma legislators' pay dwarfs the pay of lawmakers in surrounding states and is near the top of all states. At the same time, he said, the pay of teachers and other public employees in Oklahoma trails other states.

``It is just not right for our legislators' pay to be off the top of the chart when all other incomes in the state lag so far behind the national averages,'' Miller said.

Under Miller's proposal, legislative pay after 2010 would be increased in concert with the cost-of-living adjustment determined by the federal government.