Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Legislator meals and $120 daily allowances.

I may be one of the very few in Clark County who brings the perspective I have to the table:  I was Marc Boldt's legislative assistant and unlike most, I worked and lived in District during the interim.

I took the job in 1995 for around $2100 per month if memory serves.  From that pay for that way-over full time job, I in fact did have to pay rent both in Vancouver and Olympia at the same time and $400 a month in child support.  Unlike any other state employee similarly situated, I never received a dime in any allowance until a $20 per day allowance during part of the last session I worked there (2000).

Legislators received something on the order of $78 a day then if memory serves because apparently, legislators had to eat and staff didn't.  For the most part, legislators didn't care and made no effort, including Marc Boldt, BTW; to do a better job of helping staff deal with the exact same issues that they had to deal with.

Yes, I resented that.  No, there was no justification for legislators getting more money during session for living in Olympia than staff.  None.  And now, as I understand it, legislators get 3 times as much as staff for these allowances ($40 for in-district staff in Olympia during session.)

That said, like these legislators, I knew going in what the job paid.  I knew going in it was going to be a horrific struggle to pay rent for two places, (Around $700 total) and $400 child support, food, gas, insurance, cell phone, clothes, and miscellaneous.  

I have, as a result, no more sympathy for legislators complaining about this sort of thing than legislators have for staff who face the exact same issues and must make do on a great deal less: roughly $2400 per month less now... just to live.

So, mark me down as one of those who really don't give a damn if legislators get this cash or not. Lumpy's whining earlier this year on this stuff was sickening:
One, Rep. Brandon Vick, R-Felida in Clark County, actually argued that doing away with free food could have a chilling effect on constituent outreach. 
“I mean, do you meet with Constituent X if you know you’re going to have to pay?” he asked during a hearing. “Do you go out there on your own dime, and have the meeting anyway and leave frustrated?”
I just saw Brandon doing stand-up comedy at a town hall meeting:  he doesn't appear to have missed any meals lately.

Cut off the allowances and free stuff altogether.  None of these people would quit the hob.

For a comparison of Washington with other states, check this page here:

Many of them do a much better job of representing their districts than cardboard cutouts like Vick... and many of them do that job on a great deal less in pay and allowances than the $54,000 per year total for this job that those complaining around here actually get.

Lobbyist meals get them access that we don't get.  They are up there during session while we are down here.

My heart bleeds for those whining about the pay: don't like it?


It's what I tell prima donna teachers... it's what I tell legislators.

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