The Mississippi State Capitol in Jackson. Credit: Vickie D. King/Mississippi Today

A proposal to give state lawmakers a pay raise died a quiet, ignominious death without a vote or even discussion on Monday.

The Senate last week passed a bill that would give lawmakers a pay bump of $6,000 for the first year of a four-year term, and $4,500 a year for the other three years of the term. Some House members had expressed interest in a lawmaker pay raise and were awaiting the arrival of the Senate bill in the House.

But Sen. Chris McDaniel, R-Ellisville, held it on a motion to reconsider the vote. For most bills, tabling such a motion is pro forma. But in the case of Senate Bill 2794, McDaniel’s motion to reconsider was not taken up, so the bill died with Monday’s deadline to clear such procedural motions.

McDaniel said he believes legislative leaders caught so much flak for proposing the pay increase that they just let it go.

“The word I’ve used for it is embarrassing,” McDaniel said. “Politicians do not deserve a pay raise. We know what the pay is when we run for office … I do think the (motion to reconsider) delay allowed people around the state to make phone calls and send emails and push back against this.”

Mississippi’s part-time legislators are paid a base of $23,500 a year — although most make between $40,000 and $50,000 a year in salary, per diem, reimbursements and other payments. Some lawmakers’ total compensation is around $70,000 a year.

The $23,500 includes a base salary of $10,000 a year, plus $1,500 a month for office expenses during months when the Legislature is not in session — despite the fact that most lawmakers have other jobs and don’t have separate legislative offices in their district. Many rely on Capitol staffers to help with administrative work year-round.

Lawmakers do not receive the $1,500 a month office payment when the Legislature is in session. Typically, the first year of a term the Legislature meets four months, then three months each of the following three years.

Senate Bill 2794 would have paid lawmakers the $1,500 in months when the Legislature is in session.

Lawmakers also receive about $150 per diem — living expenses — for each day they spend in Jackson (including those who live in or near it), and mileage reimbursement set at the federal government rate, currently about 58 cents a mile. All members are allowed at least four days a month at the Capitol, with chairmen allowed six days and vice chairmen five days. Extra days must be approved.


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Geoff Pender serves as senior political reporter, working closely with Mississippi Today leadership on editorial strategy and investigations. Pender brings 30 years of political and government reporting experience to Mississippi Today. He was political and investigative editor at the Clarion Ledger, where he also penned a popular political column. He previously served as an investigative reporter and political editor at the Sun Herald, where he was a member of the Pulitzer Prize-winning team for Hurricane Katrina coverage. Originally from Florence, Mississippi, Pender is a journalism graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi and has received numerous awards throughout his career for reporting, columns and freedom of information efforts.