States Where Lawmakers Earn Well Above — or Below — Average

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There’s a decent chance you make more money than your state lawmakers.

Legislators in most states are paid as if their jobs were part-time, NPR reports. At the same time, legislators in most states put in more than part-time hours.

In 30 states, lawmakers earn less than $30,000 a year, according to the NPR report, which cites data from the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL).

Debate continues over whether such pay levels are positive or negative for the citizens whom the lawmakers represent.

Stanford University political scientist Neil Malhotra tells NPR that low pay keeps many people from going into politics. He continues:

“There’s very, very few working class people in legislatures. This might have something to do with why a lot of legislation does not seem very friendly towards working class people.”

On the other hand, Malhotra acknowledges that many lawmakers are against increasing legislative pay because it looks bad when politicians vote to give themselves raises.

Two former state representatives in Georgia, Mike Dudgeon and LaDawn Jones, left their State Legislature due to work-life balance issues and low pay, respectively. Still, they told NPR they worry that a big raise could lead to more people becoming career politicians.

As NPR says:

They like the idea of “citizen legislators” who take time off from their jobs to meet at the state capitol for a few months out of the year, if they can afford it.

Georgia state lawmakers earn $17,342 per year and work part-time, according to NPR’s analysis of NCSL data.

The states whose lawmakers earn the most are:

  • California: $100,113 per year
  • Pennsylvania: $85,339 per year
  • New York: $79,500 per year

All of three of those states are among the handful in which state legislators work full time, however.

The states whose lawmakers earn the least are:

  • New Mexico: No salary
  • New Hampshire: $200 per two-year term
  • Montana: $82.64 per day

State legislators work part time in all three of those states.

The median household income in the U.S. was $55,775 per year as of 2015, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Do you think state lawmakers should earn more money? Let us know below or on our Facebook page.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

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