Campaign 2012: Amendment Would Cut Pay of Alabama Legislators

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By Jessica Gertler

You have a chance to cut the pay of Alabama legislators. On the November ballot, you'll find a constitutional amendment proposal that would slash lawmakers' pay by around $8,000 and keep them from automatically getting a cost-of-living raise.

In 2007, lawmakers passed a 61 percent pay raise, and it's continued to leave many people outraged.

Some voters CBS 8 News spoke with say they will be heading to the polls in November to make sure this amendment passes.

As it stands, an Alabama lawmaker's pay averages $53,338 a year.

"It's too much money. A lot of them have second jobs already. They are not really doing their job in the state house," says Timothy Smith, an Alabama voter.

In 2007, Lawmakers approved a 61 percent raise, which added more than $16,000 a year to their pay check.

But come November, Alabamians can repeal that bill.  If they vote "yes" on the Pay Cut Amendment, lawmakers would take around an $8,000 pay cut, and will no longer be able to vote on their own pay. Any change would require a vote by the people.

"Yes! I vote yes. Definitely!" says Smith.

Senator Bryan Taylor of Prattville co-founded the proposed amendment. He says the new system would tie legislative pay to the state's median household income.

"If Alabamians are doing well and incomes are going up in this state then lawmakers share that success. But if income is going down like it has in the last few years, lawmakers will get a pay cut automatically," Taylor says.

CBS 8 News Political Analyst Steve Flowers says voters are still upset over the 2007 bill, and have been looking for a way to change it.

"So what folks are voting on is the amendment to reduce legislatures pay, keep them from doing it again, and keep them from doing it by voice vote. I think it will pass," says Flowers.

Lawmaker's travel expenses would also change. Legislators would receive the same travel reimbursement as state employees.

If this proposal passes, it would take effect in 2014.

Some legislators have refused to accept the automatic cost-of-living increase.  Sixty nine lawmakers declined it, and 35 accepted it.

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