Coming soon to a political ad near you? Lawmakers approve pay hike for themselves

The House meets on June 1, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Tennessee lawmakers have approved a bill to give each of them an extra $3,000 per year. Officially, the money is meant to cover members’ home office expenses. But in practice, there’s no requirement for legislators to document how they spend the money.

The measure was given final approval in the House on Thursday on a 70-12 vote.

“We just cut Tennesseans’ unemployment and now we’re essentially going to give ourselves a pay raise,” said Rep. Jason Hodges (D-Clarksville), who voted against the bill. “Guys, I just don’t think that looks good.”

The measure, which takes effect after the 2022 elections, also ties future increases to the Consumer Price Index, which generally increases about 2% per year. The bill also allows lawmakers to be reimbursed for unlimited round trips to the Capitol and to opt for a higher daily lodging allowance than supplied under the federal government rate of $234 per night.

Legislators are often hesitant about voting to increase their compensation because it makes for easy fodder for challengers’ campaign ads.  

Voting for the bill were Reps. Alexander, Baum, Boyd, Bricken, Calfee, Campbell, Camper, Carr, Carringer, Casada, Cepicky, Cochran, Crawford, Curcio, Darby, Doggett, Eldridge, Faison, Farmer, Gant, Gillespie, Grills, Halford, Hall, Haston, Hawk, Hazlewood, Helton, Hicks G, Holsclaw, Howell, Hurt, Curtis Johnson, Keisling, Lafferty, Lamberth, Leatherwood, Littleton, Love, Lynn, Mannis, Marsh, McKenzie, Miller, Moody, Moon, Ogles, Parkinson, Potts, Powers, Ragan, Ramsey, Reedy, Rudd, Rudder, Cameron Sexton, Jerry Sexton, Shaw, Sherrell, Smith, Terry, Todd, Vaughan, Warner, Weaver, White, Whitson, Williams, Wright and Zachary.

Voting against were Reps. Clemmons, Dixie, Freeman, Hakeem, Hardaway, Harris, Hodges, Gloria Johnson, Mitchell, Powell, Thompson, and Windle.

The Senate version passed 28-2, with the votes against coming from Sens. Campbell and Crowe.

37 Responses to Coming soon to a political ad near you? Lawmakers approve pay hike for themselves

  • Avatar
    James White says:

    Shameful

  • Avatar
    Cryan says:

    Why do they need an extra $3,000 for home office expenses? They didn’t even work from home during covid because it was a liberal hoax, and they might upset the anti-vaxxers and QAnons.

    Why can’t they just tell the truth and call it a pay raise?

    • Avatar
      steve cates says:

      It’s not the republican way to “tell the truth”!!!! (The very idea of spending that much for a night’s lodging!!!!)

  • Avatar
    LeeAnn C says:

    I have no issue with this. Think about it. If you’re not independently wealthy, you simply can’t afford to halt your business for 5 months of the year. Many of those voting against the bill live in or near Nashville. Just because the expenses are allowed, that doesn’t mean they’ll spend the money. I’d rather the lawmakers are adequately compensated so that ordinary citizens can afford to serve. Do you only want very privileged people to be able to run for your representative?

    • Avatar
      Joni says:

      This is a great point. Something to think about.

    • Avatar
      James White says:

      They know the costs going in. They should not be running for election if they ‘can’t afford’ it. UNLESS you can just vote yourself a Raise.

      • Avatar
        Jonathan Swift says:

        James, for once I completely agree with you.

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        John says:

        So these positions as legislators should only be held by the rich? Believe that is part of the problems we have in the first place. We appreciate the legislation passed for the moat part, but never seen some of these folks in the communities so represented, except to pander or photo opts.

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      Cannoneer2 says:

      I don’t have the exact numbers in front of me, but when salary, per diem, office expenses etc. are combined, a member of the Tennessee General Assembly already earns well above the salary of the average Tennessean that is employed full time.

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        LeeAnn C. says:

        Per diem and office expenses aren’t actually salaries. Those are reimbursed EXPENSES! Perhaps some need to be reaquainted with the expense of overnight stays in the very popular city of Nashville – especially downtown. Base salary is $19,000 ($3800 per month for 5 months) and they receive nothing more if the session is extended. Average median income in TN is $52,375 (more than $4300 per month).

        • Avatar
          Cannoneer2 says:

          $52,375 is the median household income, not individual median salary.

        • Avatar
          Cannoneer2 says:

          Few of them earn $19,000. That’s for a first term legislator. The raises soon kick in to bolster that amount. That’s akin to the folks who lobby for increasing the minimum wage, even though a good employee doesn’t stay at that pay grade for very long. As for “reimbursed expenses”, don’t they just receive a lump sum, regardless of actual expenses? When I traveled for business, I submitted a travel expense report and was reimbursed for the actual (and approved by superior) amount. I don’t think they are required to do that. Also, BTW, if I had pulled a “Marsha” and submitted a bag of ashes in lieu of the report, I would have been thrown out on my…. ear.

    • Avatar
      Mike says:

      They will spin every dime , it’s bull shit poor man wants get richer on free money fool

  • Avatar
    Beatrice Shaw says:

    What about raises for NORMAL people? I have to pay more for groceries and transportation because of TRUMP (yeck) policies and now Republicans set themselves up like this. It is indeed shameful. WE should be able to vote on whether they get a raise. This state has so much money it could easily afford a $500 a month stipend to lower income citizens.

    • Avatar
      Travis Gaither says:

      Beatrice, please explain to me how Donald Trump has made your grocery and transportation bill go up? He is several months removed from office and if memory serves correctly, gas prices were lower when he was in office. We may disagree here but I don’t want Tennessee to be a testing ground for Andrew Yang’s UBI.

      • Avatar
        Eddie White says:

        Do you remember when gas prices were under $2 per gallon? It was not that long ago.

      • Avatar
        MARLE says:

        Free money chasing goods drives prices up. Covid reduced factory output. More money chasing goods would have driven up prices and when you add reduced supply you have rising consumer prices.

        Trump gave relief money to families who did NOT lose their jobs and may have been making MORE money in 2020 than they did in any other year of their careers. In addition it was TRUMP who started talking about yet another $1400 for every man woman and child and the Dems said “oh, yeah, that sounds great. If we get the election confirmed on Jan 6 we’ll certainly do that!!! And so they did,

        So, yes, Trump has shared responsibility for the increased dollars chasing goods and services and therefore driving up prices. He’s not the only one but his policies and the ones he called for have created the inflationary problem at this moment in time.

    • Avatar
      James White says:

      Beatrice, you are paying more for groceries and transportation because the House of Representatives are spending TRILLIONS of dollars that we do not have. Inflation is the product of increased money supply.
      Call your congressman and tell them to STOP spending what we don’t have.

      • Avatar
        MARLE says:

        We have annually been spending Trillions we Do Not Have. If inflation were dependent on JUST that then we’d have had inflation for the last 5 years all during which Trump was calling for ZERO Fed rate b/c there was NO inflation.

        • Avatar
          James White says:

          in•fla•tion (ɪnˈfleɪ ʃən)
          n. 1. a steady rise in the level of prices related to an increased volume of money and credit and resulting in a loss of value of currency (opposed to deflation).

          • Avatar
            MARLE says:

            And Trump was calling for ZERO interest rates or Negative rates. THAT is easy money and easy credit. In addition Each Trump budget was a deficit all Before Covid showed up and while the economy was booming.

            The price of lumber, glass, steel other commodities, food, gas and a lot more started well before Biden showed up. He’s only been there less than 4 months!!!!

  • Avatar
    Cannoneer2 says:

    Oink.

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    David Collins says:

    Great. They will be paid for unlimited trips to Nashville, the liberal ghetto Stuart is always ranting about? Why on earth would any truly conservative Republican want to spend one minute more in this liberal hell hole than he or she is required to attending session and committee meetings? It wouldn’t have anything to do with the bars and night life that is missing from their chaste districts back home would it? Oh no! That can’t be it. Why that would be down right hypocritical.

    • Avatar
      Stuart I. Anderson says:

      I’m sorry David, if you stopped to think about your response you would see it simply doesn’t make sense. The legislators have made it so that they will now “. . .be reimbursed for unlimited round trips to the Capitol. . . .” which means they have made it economically easier for them to get the hell out of Sodom which provides an answer to your question viz. “truly conservative Republicans [don’t] want to spend one minute more in [that] hell hole than he or she is required to attending session and committee meetings[.]”

      This might astound you David, but much after the age of around 30 to an individual who is all grown up a regular diet of hanging around bars boozing it up buying extortionately priced drinks, especially if the bars are overcrowd and the music is ear piercing, is something less than heaven on earth provided ones home life isn’t hell on earth. Besides, being in Sodom “for business” and every once in awhile wanting to partake of the pleasures therein, but not wanting to live and raise a family in Sodom is not “feigning to be what one is not or to believe what one does not” therefore doesn’t come anywhere close to being hypocritical.

      • Avatar
        MARLE says:

        Do you have any idea, Stuart, how many of your neighbors go to Nashville night life sites? When your neighbors have out of town guests who want to have a night out they don’t go to the local bistro in Franklin. Hell hole to visit? I think not.

        • Avatar
          Stuart I. Anderson says:

          My neighbors are mostly Indian – West Asian variety who are H-1b immigrants who don’t make enough to consider paying the extortionate prices for the drinks in the various watering holes in Sodom. On the other hand the H-1b holders from West Asia who work cheaply and are tied to their employer as I understand it free up a lot of American college graduates to be waiters and waitresses in Sodom’s watering holes so it all kind of works out.

          • Avatar
            MARLE says:

            All of my neighbors in the Nashville suburbs are not just one nationality. I find it odd that every person other than you, in Franklin, is from India.

            You know that your “neighbors” in Franklin are not the ones who share a condo wall with you or travel the same corridor or stairway for trash removal.

  • Avatar
    Taxpayer #314 says:

    It is all a smoke screen for a pay raise that continues to go up every year without them having to advertise it. It is a conservative sneaky way of doing business that is behind the public’s back. No transparency with giving raises is just wrong and they know it.

  • Avatar
    Taxpayer #314 says:

    A little off subject here but I have to be fair to Stuart. Many times on this site, I point out the large number of both Conservatives and Republicans that are connected to or charged with sexual “misdeeds.” Today David Hunt, the former Democratic Speaker of the Oregon House of Reps. (2008-2011) was charged with posting on-line seeking to hire a woman for prostitution. He denies all charges. I have posted about 25 times (?) of Republican “misdeeds,” but that is the first that I remember of a Democrat being charged with such “misdeeds.” I do not claim to be any type of official score keeper but I like to be truthful. And yes, I believe the same as Stuart claims, if he is found to be guilty, he should absolutely be prosecuted like all the other people I have singled out. The fact that he served in his political position 10 years ago does not figure into this either, he was a Democrat. We don’t need or want people like that in our party and will call them out when necessary. I only wish the Conservatives and Republicans would do the same; All of us would be better off. That is my point in posting all these “misdeeds.”

    • Avatar
      Cryan says:

      Hypothetical: There are an equal number of sex scandals among Democrats and Republicans.

      Wouldn’t it still be worse for a Republican since they’re the party of the Sanctity of Marriage?

      I guess not. Most have already forgotten about Stormy Daniels or Jerry Falwell and the pool boy.

    • Avatar
      Stuart I. Anderson says:

      Taxpayer, this is a blog about “. . .Tennessee politics, government and legislative news.” Admittedly I have participated in expanding the Response section into one about national as well as Tennessee politics and government. Sometimes, wrongdoing occurs that requires a legal remedy so wrongdoing does elide into politics. On the other hand, what you are obsessed about is law enforcement matters not political and governmental matters. Where power and money intersect law enforcement problems are never far behind. You will have to forgive those of us who simply don’t find all of this very interesting.

      • Avatar
        Taxpayer #314 says:

        Yeah, just write it off and forget about all the wrongdoing with the Conservatives and the Republicans. Even a casual look into the amount of public trust and truth the voters show for both Conservatives AND Republicans will reveal that support for both groups is diminishing daily. Those two groups are fighting amongst themselves so hard they don’t have time to add anything to addressing today’s pressing issues! Is that comment political enough?

      • Avatar
        Taxpayer #314 says:

        The truth of the matter is that our Legislators and Law Makers are exactly the ones that need the enforcement, but you don’t see that connection at all. Look no further than the previous Trump administration and witness the huge volume of legal cases against former and current politicians that are still working their way through the courts. And then there are the many investigations that are just now getting underway. Unfortunately, when our politicians gang up and go against our laws in such a widespread and organized manner, fair and impartial law enforcement is FORCED to become part of “government and legislation” news.
        Conservatives and Republicans repeat TRUMPS’ BIG LIE so often, they begin to believe it themselves. Elections have consequences and Trump Lost. Now, Conservatives and Republicans are busy trying to continue spreading the lie. Their only hope is if they can pass enough voter suppression laws in the majority Republican states that would allow them to control the vote. Hello, Georgia, Texas and Florida. In TN, they are assured the majority will vote for Republicans blindly, as usual, so they don’t bother with too many voter suppression rules, they concentrate on raising their salary. Convenient!

        • Avatar
          Stuart I. Anderson says:

          For those visiting the America or are not familiar with American politics Taxpayer is one of our resident leftists on this forum and when American leftists use the term “voter suppression” what they are talking about are things like voter identification requirements and other measures in use in democracies around the world to make sure only those eligible are allowed to vote. The problem leftists have with this is that these measures are designed to make cheating more difficult and it is this cheating that leftists are notoriously famous for in one party jurisdictions that they control so understandably ballot security measures makes them kinda mad.

          • Avatar
            Taxpayer #314 says:

            Rush to the mirror Stuart to see the reflection you love so much. You, as a Heritage Pounding Conservative are so accustomed to twisting the truth 180 degrees. Anyone can look up “Voter Suppression” and make up their own mind. You really have to stretch the truth to claim voter ID laws and all the other Republican Gimmicks are anything more than harassment and intimidation of voters. It is NOT the Democratic Party that is associated with America’s Jim Crow Laws it is clearly Republicans. The only, so called, “Cheating” in the last election was only found on the Republican side as several people did indeed vote twice – for TRUMP.

  • Avatar
    Jonathan Swift says:

    Based on the very limited days of each year that our elected representatives actually work at legislating, and the even more limited number of laws they produce that actually benefit the majority of the population instead of one party, it seems we the taxpayers are not getting good value for our dollars. Especially when they get to furtively approve raises for themselves. Besides, aren’t they paid enough by their big business PACs?

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