NELA lawmakers react to a proposed bill to increase lawmakers’ salaries from $16,800 to $60,000

Sen. Jay Morris thinks the raises are “too much,” while Sen. Katrina Jackson says the current pay prevents talented people from serving.
Published: Mar. 23, 2023 at 5:49 PM CDT
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MONROE, La. (KNOE) - Should state lawmakers receive a pay raise in Louisiana?

That’s what one proposed bill would do.

The bill authored by Representative Joe Marino (I-85) would increase legislators’ salaries from $16,800 annually to $60,000.

“I understand the reasoning behind it, and the reasoning is not ridiculous, but I think it’s too much,” State Senator Jay Morris (R-35) told KNOE.

“I believe that this type of bill would encourage others to be willing to serve,” State Senator Katrina Jackson (D-34) explained.

While Morris agrees the pay is a financial burden for some, he says it’s not about the money for most lawmakers.

“I wouldn’t accept it even if it’s offered to me,” said Morris. “I was in the later part of my career when I started running for political office.”

Jackson says the current pay is preventing talented people from serving.

“The everyday average citizen of Lousiana can’t make that type of sacrifice, and so they never serve when they would be good people in serving the people of this state,” Jackson said.

Jackson says although lawmakers receive $161 a day per diem when in session, they aren’t adequately compensated for their work when not in session.

“I jokingly say in a lot of speeches, I have two full-time jobs,” Jackson explained. “One being an attorney. The second one is a lawmaker because even if there is not a special session, we are on the road for meetings.”

If passed, lawmakers would receive the raise next term, which starts in January.

Morris says the only way he’ll consider the legislation is if an added amendment prevents those who vote on the measure from getting the increase.

“That would not allow anybody who is currently in the legislature to ever get that raise,” said Morris. “They would be limited to their current salary for as long as they’re in the legislature.”

On housing, Jackson says senators can rent apartments at a reduced cost at the capitol. Most house members are left to find housing in Baton Rouge on their own.