POWELL: Legislators scared of raises; and Democrats mock women

Published on Friday, 5 March 2021 18:23
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By a 3-2 vote, Connecticut's Commission on Compensation of Elected State Officials has recommended small raises, a bit more than 1%, for state legislators and the top state elected officials - the governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, treasurer, secretary of the state, and comptroller.

There's good reason for such raises. The salary of legislators, $28,000, which is supplemented by unvouchered expense accounts of $5,500 for senators and $4,500 for representatives and a mileage allowance, has not increased in 20 years. The salaries for the governor and the other elected officers of the executive branch - $150,000 for the governor, $110,000 for the others - have not increased for 17 years. (Governor Lamont has declined a salary.)

Since Connecticut gives its governor a mansion to use in Hartford, the salary for the office isn't bad. But the pay for the other executive officers is low in light of their full-time responsibilities. As for legislators, they are paid part-time rates for what is often a full-time job, though they disgracefully abdicated during most of the virus epidemic.

So ordinarily raises would be appropriate now, and a 1% raise would be tiny. More frequent raises eventually would facilitate service by more people who have families to support. But it won't happen, and maybe it shouldn't.

No matter the merits, legislators are scared to vote for raises, even though they could not take effect until after the next election. Most legislators might vote for raises only if the vote would be nearly unanimous and they had assurance that members of the other political party would not make an issue of the raises in the next election.

Of course that is political cowardice.

But a better reason not to enact the raises has been offered by the state Senate's Republican minority leader, Kevin Kelly of Stratford. Amid the economic damage inflicted by the epidemic, Kelly says, too many state residents are struggling financially and would resent higher pay for legislators.

Of course such resentment didn't prompt the governor and legislators to stop the raises that began a few months ago for state government employees. Since the state employee unions are so politically mobilized, nearly everyone in authority just shrugged.

Resentment against raises for legislators is a hint that even though the voters keep reelecting nearly all of them, legislators generate little enthusiasm. There probably is wide recognition that state government has not been improving living conditions in Connecticut for people generally. If living conditions were improving markedly in the state, people might gladly support raises for elected officials.

Legislators in both parties seem to consider it success enough just to get reelected regardless of the state's general decline. After all, some salary and benefits are better than none.

These circumstances are not likely to change until somebody makes a good case for why and exactly how things should change. Ordinarily this task would fall to the minority party, but Connecticut's Republicans long have had no platform and don't seem to want one.

Please let this be the end of the Democratic Party's posturing, nationally and in Connecticut, as the party of women's advancement. For a few days ago all Democratic U.S. representatives, including the five from Connecticut, voted for legislation denying equal rights to women.

The legislation, the grossly misnamed Equality Act, would require athletic events to allow men to participate as women and to use women's restrooms, and presumably vice-versa.

The act would demolish the premise of previous equal rights legislation involving athletics - the premise that, since men in general are stronger and faster than women, women cannot have equal opportunity in athletics unless they have their own contests.

The legislation also would deny restroom privacy to both genders.

The legislation's premise is that gender is not biological but merely a state of mind. So much for science.

Gender-separate athletic contests don't deny opportunity to people who wish to pose as someone of the opposite sex. Such people are free to participate according to their biological gender.

This legislation is as lunatic and offensive as anything Donald Trump ever proposed. But it's politically correct.

Chris Powell is a columnist for the Journal Inquirer in Manchester.

Posted in The Bristol Press, Column, Editorials on Friday, 5 March 2021 18:23. Updated: Friday, 5 March 2021 18:26.