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Legislature salary increase issue returns to the ballot
In addition to state, county, and local candidates, Nebraska voters will find four proposed amendments to the Nebraska Constitution when they head to the polls on November 6th.
One of those amendments has to do with money.
It was known during the 2012 legislative session as LR-373-CA, better known to us as the Nebraska Legislative Salary Amendment.
Voters will get a chance to decide in just a little over two weeks whether or not to increase state senator salaries by over $10,000.
It's been attempted before in the past - salary increases for state senators.
One of those attempts occurred back in 2006. The amendment was defeated by voters with 52-percent against the raise.
In January of this year, Omaha Senator Scott Lautenbaugh introduced a proposal that would raise state legislative salaries from $12,000 to $32,000 a year. That was later reduced at $22,500 a year.
So on the ballot, voters will answer a simple for or against question.
The question is also simple: a constitutional amendment to change the salary of members of the Legislature to $22,500.
Current district 33 state senator Les Seiler says the increase could open the playing field to Nebraskans who would like to be part of the unicameral.
"There's a lot of young senators down there that I don't know how they make it on that kind of salary, they're working their tails off," said Seiler.
Seiler's opponent in this year's district race, Butch Hughes, disagrees.
"Why are we going to financially reward people that haven't been doing their job, or have not been paying attention to the one their they're supposed to do and that's the oath of office they took," Hughes said.
When he introduced the bill, Senator Lautenbaugh said Senators' pay needed to be increased for inflation. He also said the pay is too low considering the number of hours worked and the number of months required per year.
If approved by voters, the increase will cost the state about $980,000 a year for senators' base pay.
Right now, state senators only make $12,000 a year for their time.
That is among the lowest in the country.
If passed, the increase would take effect in January of 2013.
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