Notice to future lawmakers: If you serve in the Utah Legislature, plan to serve for love, not money.
In a 16-52 vote, the House killed a bill that would have increased lawmakers' salaries from $65 a day to $100 a day. The Senate had earlier approved SB64, a similar measure.Proponents of the pay increase argued that the low pay prevented all but those who are wealthy or retired from serving in the Legislature. But most representatives seemed to agree with Rep. Donald LeBaron, R-Highland, who said the level of pay does not determine the quality of lawmaker, and that volunteerism was an integral part of serving in the Legislature.
"I have been here for a number of terms, and I have not seen the quality of legislator decline because they didn't get enough money," he said. "The quality of legislator has never been better."
Others noted the irony of considering a pay increase for themselves on the same day legislative committees were asked to cut their budgets.
"Everyone who serves here does so with sacrifice," said Rep. Glen Brown, R-Coalville.
But Rep. Blaze Wharton, D-Salt Lake, the House sponsor of the bill, argued that $65 a day wasn't enough to cover basic expenses and that by refusing a pay increase, lawmakers were, in effect, saying: "We don't want you if you can't afford to come up here."
"We do a good job, and we should get paid for it," Wharton said. "We shouldn't have to worry about our families and how we are going to pay our bills while we are up here."