The Runback: Full-Time Nonsense
A story buried over the holiday weekend could portend long term problems in Maryland government
Welcome to another week of The Runback. Have you been enjoying The Duckpin? Do you have comments or suggestions? Do you want to write for us? Let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org. And please be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. Thanks in advance.
2022 Candidate Information
We have launched a one-stop shop for candidate information for the 2022 Election. Bookmark this page, as it will be updated through the 2022 Election. This includes our first round of candidate surveys, which include Julie Giordano for Wicomico County Executive, Colt Black for Delegate, and more.
News and Politics
Donald Trump Endorsing Dan Cox Is Pointless Noise: Nothing will change after this endorsement. The Math Doesn't Lie.
Cox Running Mate Calls Hogan "Imposter Republican": Schifanelli Calls Trump "the real United States Patriot".
Democrats Congressional Districts a Lawsuit Waiting to Happen: No lessons have been learned by Democrats in their past gerrymandering attempts.
Let's Do a USFL Logo Comparison: All that's old is new again.
The OCHO: Week 11: Take a look at our newest column about the NFL. Take a look for it every Monday.
It's Time for a Change in College Park: Mark Turgeon is not the answer for the challenges that face Terps basketball.
There's a Move to Put "Weird Al" Yankovic in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and they're Probably Right: Nobody has done comedy and satire in music better than "Weird Al".
The Monday Thought
Maryland lawmakers currently earn a yearly salary of $50,330 — but that figure could be increasing soon as the General Assembly Compensation Commission considers whether to raise pay for state legislators over the next four years.
That commission, which convenes every four years to decide on lawmakers’ compensation, kicked off its work with an informational meeting last week. Simon G. Powell, a budget analyst with the nonpartisan Department of Legislative Services, told commission members that lawmakers have been taking on more work in recent years despite the fact that Maryland is not considered a full-time legislature like neighboring Pennsylvania.
That doesn’t even take into account the full compensation that legislators get. As I’ve been covering for years, legislators can receive $101 per day for lodging and $47 per day for meals during the 90-day General Assembly session. They can usually take that money whether or not they actually need to take that compensation. If I were a legislator and I took a peanut butter and jelly sandwich to work every day, I could still collect $47 a day for it. And that doesn’t even take into account the ample opportunities legislators get to feast, for free, at various receptions held around Annapolis practically every day of session.
Regardless, the actual compensation a legislator could theoretically receive every 90-days checks out at $63,650. That’s before we start getting into the free parking at the State House year round, the office space, and all of the other ancillary benefits, like health care, pensions, etc.
Here, however, is the key sentence in the entire Maryland Matters piece:
“We are definitely moving towards that professionalized legislature, although the moniker of a citizen legislature it’s still something to Maryland generally been clinging to,” Powell said. Most legislators still maintain day jobs in different fields.
Powell, who of course works for the Department of Legislative Services and knows where his bread is buttered, is talking about something that the left has dreamed of for years; the “professionalization” of the General Assembly. They want State Senators and Delegates to have their full-time employment be as Senators and Delegates. The expectation, at that point, would be that the legislators would not have outside employment beyond being a legislator and that they would be “fairly compensated” for their work.
Do you know who loves this idea? The people who are most likely to benefit from a “full-time” legislator; the politicians, the lobbyists, and (at least as Maryland goes) the radical left-wing activists who think that Maryland’s state government isn’t big enough.
Take a look at the states that have “full-time” legislatures and you’ll see a pattern:
New York ($110,000/year)
The states that have full-time legislatures all have high union and left-wing activist involvement in politics. It benefits them, their issues, and their wallets to have the legislatures serve full-time because it gives them more legislative and facetime to accomplish their agenda.
The wild thing about this “professionalization” is the fact that COVID laid waste to the argument for it in 2020. Thanks to COVID, the General Assembly adjourned 20 days earlier than normal. They still managed to pass a budget, the one constitutional requirement the General Assembly actually has to accomplish on a yearly basis. Everything beyond that is extraneous and yet the majority still managed to pass several of their featured bills that hurt taxpayers.
They did that in nearly a quarter of the time that they usually do. So tell me again, what’s the actual argument for “professionalization?” Especially what you consider what an average General Assembly consists of:
Day 1: Gaveling into session
Days 2-45: Accomplishing nothing, going to receptions
Day 45-80: Start thinking about doing work, going to more receptions
Day 81-90: Furiously trying to pass every single item on the agenda in a hurry like a college student cramming their term paper at 4 am.
Realistically, the General Assembly could accomplish everything they “need” to accomplish in thirty days or less. But that would require more legislators who want to be serious about their work and fewer who are enamored with the perks of their office.
And Republicans, don’t get cocky: while Democrats at the majority, Republicans are among the worst offenders.
As far as I’m concerned, legislators are already overpaid and we need fewer of them. Let’s resist the urge to pay them more or professionalize them.