Sunday, January 25, 2009

I'll see that and raise you a legislature

Disappointing news this weekend as we learned State Representative Bill Kramer (R-Waukesha) is accepting the legislative pay raise. Kramer told the Waukesha Freeman that he plans to invest the money into his business.

I sympathize with Kramer when calls giving back the pay raise towards the state budget deficit as "gimmicky." I would even go so far as to argue that a case can be made that members of the state legislature deserve a raise. I'm also sympathetic to the argument that it would affect Kramer's tax liability, which perhaps explains why some of his colleagues promised the raise to charity.

However, the case for a raise was not made by the legislature, nor was the case made by any legislative Republicans for accepting it. The money was allocated without so much as a vote, let alone any debate. On that principle alone the raise should have been rejected or sent to charity.

Perhaps even more disappointing than Kramer's reaction was the mixed reaction from all legislative members of the Republican Party in Madison. It's not like this pay raise was unexpected yet there was no strategy for dealing with the issue. Instead of being used to partisan advantage, the issue seems to have been rolled under the GOP tent like a live hand grenade. The reaction, sadly predictable, has been every man for himself.

At a time when many of Kramer's constituents are facing no raise or even unemployment, the least Kramer and his colleagues owed them was a vote on his own pay raise.