Why I Think PAC To PAC Transfers Will Survive This Legislative Session

Newsflash:

The House and Senate today OK’d a more than 60 percent pay raise for legislators. The governor said he would veto the increase.

The resolution increases pay by $1,570 per month and sets future automatic increases tied to the consumer price index. The raise would boost annual legislative pay to $49,250. Riley, who has proposed income tax and other tax cuts and credits, said he knows both the House and Senate have the votes to override his veto. “If the House and Senate are going to give themselves a 61 percent raise, there’s no reason in the world they wouldn’t give the workers that allow that a raise through these tax cuts,” Riley said.

An override vote would require each legislator to vote yes or no in a recorded vote. The pay raise was not on the agendas of the House or Senate this morning.

State Rep. Demetrius Newton, D-Birmingham, introduced the resolution in the House. Sen. Lowell Barron, D-Fyffe, proposed the resolution in the Senate. Lt. Gov. Jim Folsom Jr. allowed a voice vote, even though several Republican senators raised their hands requesting a recorded vote.

What does that have to do with banning PAC-PAC transfers? Two things, I think.

First, the decision about the pay raise is one where the primary benefits or costs will be born by someone with no say in the decision. That is, giving themselves a huge pay raise – whatever the merits of that decision – is a decision for which they get all the benefits and we bear all the costs. On the other hand, if they don’t provide the raise, they lose the money, but we see our resources conserved. Ditto banning PAC-PAC transfers. We bear all the costs of keeping them, while the legislature would bear all the costs of getting rid of them. Right now, every one of these folks gets to hide their donors behind PAC transfers, receiving the benefit of anonymous donations. Meanwhile us voters pay the costs of being unable to discover to whom our legislators are beholden.  Now, in light of how they decided the pay raise issue – by benefiting themselves and burdening us – how do you think the PAC-PAC issue will end? This doesn’t look like a group into self-sacrifice.

Second, the PAC-PAC ban is all about open government. We want to know who is giving money to who. That way we can properly evaluate our candidates. Given that they just decided, with the exception of a few Republicans (and good for them), in an unrecorded voice vote to give themselves a huge raise, I’m less confident than I was yesterday that open government and accountability are very highly valued by the current legislature.

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16 Comments on “Why I Think PAC To PAC Transfers Will Survive This Legislative Session”

  1. Willie Says:

    I know it looks bad, but the legislature has not had a raise in 16 years. Mainly because they are scare and to do it. If they had gotten 3-4% cost of living increases in the 16 years, it would be around $50,000. I am pretty sure that state workers making $31,000 in 1991 are making more than $50,000 now. I don’t have such a problem with it.

  2. wheeler Says:

    “I am pretty sure that state workers making $31,000 in 1991 are making more than $50,000 now.”

    but those are full time workers.

    anyway, i’m more disturbed by the manner in which they made the decision than by the decision itself.


  3. “but those are full time workers.

    anyway, i’m more disturbed by the manner in which they made the decision than by the decision itself.”

    Exactly. We are discussing a part-time job that will soon pay more than many full-time jobs. And the thing that I find disturbing is that they did not force a recorded vote. I want to know who voted how.

  4. publius Says:

    well, well???? balancing an egg against a grain of sand? I suppose most legislators are willing to admit to around 20-25k per year in illegal compensation. that seems to be the ballpark figure they have assessed themselves in the raise, in lieu of banning pac to pac transfers. But, that doesnt explain jim sullivan or jan cook and a few other miscreants (in all branches) that have substantial beach front property and we get higher utility rates in return. Im sure sullivan and crook are only following balch bingham’s edicts. But what to explain the wisdom of a 61% pay raise? corruption plain and simple. catch me if you can, I know you cant; but if you do, I’ll get that special judge jerry somebody out of dothan to make it all go away. Alabama should be designated something less than puerto rico. at least puerto has an excuse for their corruption. well, we do too, its called our plantation mentality and its organic document, our beloved constitution. We simply require a south carolina style extensive penetration by the feds. its clear the state law enforcement organs are incompetent, or heaven forbid, complicit.

  5. Wheeler Says:

    “balancing an egg against a grain of sand”

    imbalanced indeed.

  6. publius Says:

    not imbalance, but deception. the phrase refers to the preferred mental formation/state for ancient chinese military strategists about to engage the enemy, under any conditions. see? it fooled even you. just think how much more WE are fooled by the fools in the legislature. At least Chinese military theory is a much publicly debated topic, but our legislature only debates known outcomes, and that only for show.
    Dont be deceived by the egg/sand conundrum, especially by low brow knuckledraggers kept in tow by pac to pac transfers ferreted about by felons and those wishing to earn such a badge of honor. sad indeed

  7. Willie Says:

    “but those are full time workers”.

    “anyway, I’m more disturbed by the manner in which they made the decision than by the decision itself”.

    I am not sure you can really call any politician part-time. My poor p/t mayor gets $600 a month, and with that he gets to talk to dozens of disgruntled wacko’s everyday, and attend meetings and gatherings almost every night and weekend. The same for our local state legislator. He never seems to be off duty, so I am not sure you can say they are not full time. Remember this money is meant to pay gas, lodging meals, and everything it takes to live for periods of time away from home. As with anything, some lose money, some make money.

    Nowadays, every politician has to judge whether his on the record vote will generate attack ads in his next campaign. Voice votes will probably become more prevalent in situations where there is a strong majority for something can be used by bottom dwellers to damage you.

  8. Don Says:

    Whoever Willie is, his defensive comment makes one wonder if he isn’t one of the bloodsuckers on Goat Hill.

    Anonymous Willie, in this country and in Alabama, we the people are supposed to own the government we created, and we taxpayers certainly pay for it, including the compensation of those who sought to be our public “servants”, but most of whom seem to think we the people are their servants. When they asked us for our votes to put them in office they knew what their compensation from us was supposed to be. If that and their sense of responsibility to serve their fellow citizens was deemed by them to be not enough, they should never have sought election to the office. Now that they are there they have taken it upon themselves to grease their own palms at the expense of those who trusted them with their votes, and they were so cowardly as to do it in a manner that we can’t tell who voted for it.

    Shame on any of them who voted for this, including you if you are one of the culprits!

  9. Willie Says:

    Donnie boy, I’m a pensioner, retiring youngish after 25 years overseas and 8 wars. I’m a crabber now, and my name is Willie. After working in many counties all over the world, the old adage, “you get what you pay for” is my favorite phrase for Alabama, my birthplace. We are almost third world doing everything on the cheap, which is why the Asians and Europeans love us, sending their factories here.

    Ok, Donnie, tell us what you do for mankind?

  10. Don Says:

    Willie, first of all, my name isn’t Donnie boy any more than yours is wee Willie. When people post comments without any link to identify who they might be readers don’t know if the posters are who they say they are or have any way of finding out anything about them. At least now you’ve said that your name really is Willie and you’ve told a bit about yourself and what you’ve done.

    Because your post seemed to be defending the legislators ramming through a pay raise for themselves one could suspect that you might actually be one yourself since no one other than legislators seems to be defending their actions.

    Actually you and I have something in common, since both of us worked in countries all around the globe, we’re now retired, and crabby, as you describe it. My rants don’t defend a legislature that works to benefit the members and the special interest groups that control them and the legislative process for their own benefit rather than for the benefit of Alabamians who in theory own our government and in reality pay for it, however.

    If you want to know more about me read http://www.doctoriq.com/whois.htm and if you want to know what I’m trying to do for the portion of mankind that resides in Alabama just take a tour through the entire website while you’re there.

  11. Willie Says:

    Don, my name is Willie, William, and although I can be crabby on occasion, I actually do crab, like run crab pots, to suppliment my early retirement pension.

    Over the years I have found that you usually get what you pay for. I meet quite a few state legislators at the seafood bash that our local towns, commercial fisherman and associated interests sponser every year in Montgomery. The ones I have sat down and had dinner with seemed like pretty good people, both Dem’s and Republicans. But, I do remember several mentioned that it was not easy sometimes, both financially and time involved. People state that they are part time, but I don’t see that. The legislators that I interact with spend a lot of time at various meetings back home, plus I can only imagine the phone calls they get every day. Seems to me that they are always on duty. That was my point.

  12. Don Says:

    Willie, no doubt many legislators work hard at both representing their constituents as well as at their “day job”, many of which are “double-dipper” jobs also paid for by taxpayers because they are state jobs that create a conflict of interest when they vote to appropriate taxpayer money to the government entity they work for on their primary job.

    Readers may be interested in going over to Doc’s Political Parlor @ http://www.politicalparlor.net/wp/posts-from-the-legislature/ and read how Rep. Cam Ward says he spends his days. I know some other legislators who work equally hard for their constituents, and I know of some who work equally hard for special interest groups that finance their campaigns for re-elections rather than for their constituents. Those are the ones I consider to be real bloodsuckers.

    All of them, though, the good and the bad, knew what a legislator is paid before they applied for the job. They all knew that voting such an excessive increase for themselves at the expense of their constituents wasn’t an honorable thing to do. They all knew that to do so in such a clandestine manner where their vote is not recorded for their constituents to see is despicable behavior. Yet they did so, and that’s why so few people are defending them and nearly everyone is castigating them.


  13. PAC to PAC Transfer Ban

    Wheeler gave some great commentary on Thursday in regards to why he thinks the PAC to PAC ban will not make it out of the legislature this year. He does make a great argument, but I still believe (hope) that it will be passed.
    First, the decision abou…


  14. […] March 12, 2007 PAC to PAC Transfer Ban Jeff Vreeland on 2007-03-12 @ 9:50 am Wheeler gave some great commentary on Thursday in regards to why he thinks the PAC to PAC ban will not make […]

  15. Willie Says:

    Don, I agree about double dippers. When I left Alabama in the late 70’s I believe the law forbid anyone on a government or tax paid payroll getting involved in politics. When did this change? We had a local Rep that use to be state trooper, and still is a Rep, but has changed jobs several times. He is pretty good too, but I use to wonder how he got to Montgomery.

  16. Don Says:

    Willie, subject to correction because I am relying only on memory, I believe the law is still on the books and it says that a person can’t be on the payroll of more than on state funded entity, or words to that effect. The double-dippers get around it by purportedly not being paid at their other state-funded job during the time they are drawing pay for being legislators. That loophole needs to be closed. I think someone tried to do that when Siegelman was Attorney General and he rendered an opinion saying what they do is legal.


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