Proposed bill would raise state lawmaker salary

Posted at 11:47 PM, Dec 04, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-04 23:47:42-05

A proposed raise is raising questions. 

A bill introduced into the Florida legislature by would give lawmakers a significant pay boost from about $29,000 to $50,000.

Senate Bill 712 was introduced by State Senator Arthenia Joyner, a Democrat from Tampa.

Lawmakers say at the end of the day, you will be the one to benefit. 

When Thao Trinh isn't teaching at Northwood elementary, she's at The Painted Mermaid. 
"I come here and do my second job," Trinh says.
She knows a dollar isn't easy to come by - for her or the families of the students she teaches. 
"There are a lot of needs for the community," she says. "So it's definitely heartbreaking at times to see it happening." 
So on the surface, lawmakers asking for a nearly 70% raise is unheard of. 
"First and foremost let's fix what is broken, which are the areas with the most needs," Trinh says.
But state representative Mark Pafford says fixing those same problems starts with fixing what he calls a broken government. 
"The legislature does not respond to the people of Florida and their needs," he says.
He says Tallahassee is dominated by wealthy lawmakers who don't take their $29,000 dollar a year, part time job as seriously as they should. 
He says a raise for lawmakers to $50,000 a year would make the job more appealing to everyday Floridians. 

In turn, he says those citizen legislators might pay more attention to issues like cash-strapped schools.
"One way to entice a better quality legislator is by paying them a salary that is indicative of full time work," he says.  

Pafford also says that for a state this large, Florida's lawmakers are among the lowest paid.

He says Palm Beach County commissioners make on average $90,000 a year and are responsible for a 4 billion dollar budget. 

State legislators make less and are responsible for a budget 20 times as large. 
Overall, Trinh agrees that we need better lawmakers, but she says the bill goes about it the wrong way. 
Help the people first - and she says that will fix the system. 
"They need to be more focused on the people of Florida," she says.