JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Missouri officials are receiving their first pay raise in more than a decade over the next two years.
The raise was suggested in a report from the Missouri Citizens’ Commission on Compensation for Elected Officials in November. The General Assembly was required to reject the recommendations before Feb. 1 to strike them down, but only the House took action on the piece, failing to pass a resolution disapproving the raise Thursday morning.
Even if the House had rejected the increase, the raise would have taken effect: The upper chamber had already adjourned for the week when the results were officially declared, leaving it no time to consider the resolution before its deadline.
“We were waiting on the House to send that measure over to us, so we weren’t in control of what happened,” Senate President Pro Tem Dave Schatz told reporters following adjournment. “At this point, there’s nothing we could do about it.”
Senate Majority Floor Leader Caleb Rowden said the raise could help support increased diversity in the General Assembly.
“I don’t think anybody wants to live in a world where the only people who can serve in the legislature are people that have personal wealth,” Rowden said. “It won’t make a big difference in the grand scheme of things for people who are living on the salary … but there needs to be diversity in the group of folks who are here with varying life circumstances and varying views of the world, so that it probably helps.”
Rowden and Schatz echoed the commission, which reported “the position entails more than just a January to mid-May, Monday through Thursday schedule. Constituents expect and need their legislators available for comments, concerns, and assistance year-round.”
Under the recommendations, lawmakers will see a 2.5 percent pay increase annually for the next two fiscal years, beginning in FY 2022. Statewide officials would see the same rate.
The governor would receive an increase of nearly $7,000 compared to the current pay scale by the 2023 fiscal year, putting him at $140,596 annually. The boost would put Missouri more in line with other states, including Kentucky and Arkansas. California currently pays its governor the highest salary in the country at $201,680 a year, according to the commission’s report.
Parson previously told reporters he supported the pay raise, saying it would help increase representation in the statehouse.
In all, the recommended raises are set to cost more than $200,000 both years.
The commission had recommended an increased salary for elected officials several times over the years, but lawmakers continually voted it down.
The commission is composed of 21 Missouri citizens selected by the governor and secretary of state and meets biannually to consider pay rates for officials and analyze current financial data. The legislature approved the most recent pay increase in 2004.