MONTGOMERY -- Despite numerous Republican candidates making a pay raise repeal the central focus of their 2010 campaigns, Senate leadership blocked Senator Gerald Dial’s (R - Lineville) attempt to introduce legislation fully repealing the State Legislature’s 2007 cost-of-living compensation increase to the Alabama State Senate.
Senate Rules Committee Chair Scott Beason (R - Gardendale) put Senator Paul Sanford’s (R - Hunstville) competing legislation on the Rules committee agenda for their meeting last Thursday, but neglected to include Senator Dial’s and only agreed to send both resolutions to a subcommittee after other Committee members expressed their support.
Sanford’s bill would protect the current legislative compensation of $52,596 annually but require legislative pay to be cut each time the Governor announced plans to prorate the general fund budget. The bill would not take effect until 2012, despite Governor Bentley’s recently announced plans to slash the state budget by 15 percent. Bentley also pledged in his State of the State address to end proration through budget cuts, meaning legislator pay would remain intact.
Sanford defended maintaining the pay increase by suggesting many freshman legislators may not have chosen to run under the 2007 compensation levels, and told WSFA that if the legislature voted to repeal the pay raise, “I believe myself and many other legislators are going to be put in a situation where we’re going to have to resign.”
Alabama Democratic Party Chairman Mark Kennedy criticized the Senate’s attempt to block Dial’s legislation, saying, “It’s absurd that Republican leadership would attempt to block an issue central to many of their new legislators’ 2010 campaigns from even coming up for a vote. The people of Alabama deserve to know where their representatives stand on this issue, and if Republicans want to prove they’re committed to putting their constituents first they’ll allow the legislature to vote on a full pay raise repeal.”
Both bills were eventually sent to a Rules Committee subcommittee for further review, leaving Republicans in a stalemate.