We read on Saturday that U.S. Representatives were getting a pay raise. This item in Fox News, Pay Raises for Lawmakers Anger Watchdog Groups, is typical:
As Americans across the country grapple with one of the worst financial crises since the Great Depression, members of Congress quietly are getting a pay raise.
Each lawmaker's annual salary is due for a $4,700 cost-of-living increase starting in January, which will amount to a cost to taxpayers of $2.5 million in 2009, infuriating watchdog groups. . .
. . .Lawmakers have received automatic raises since 1989. As part of an ethics bill, Congress gave up its ability to accept pay for speeches and made annual cost-of-living pay increases automatic unless lawmakers voted otherwise. . . .
The article notes that some members of Congress return the automatic raises to the Treasury or donate them to charity. Remembering that Walz had returned an earlier raise, we asked Walz District Director Meredith Salsbery if he would continue this practice of refusing to take a raise until the budget is balanced.
Via email, she said that Walz would indeed be returning this year's raise to the federal coffers--along with the sum from last year's automatic raise as well. From the email:
[He] has to keep declining [the last raise]. We'll send Treasury a letter that will deduct an amount equal to this year's COLA and last year's COLA from each paycheck.
Salsbury said that no new statement would be released about Walz sticking to his practice.
Why does Walz this? The Minnesota Independent reported in January:
“I am committed to fiscal responsibility and to changing the way Washington works,” said Rep. Walz in a press release. “The reinstatement of pay-as-you-go budgeting has finally put this country back on the right track towards a balanced budget, but until we reach that milestone I will refuse any pay increase.”
Walz has refused to accept a pay increase until the federal budget is balanced.
“I came here to change our priorities in Washington. I don’t think it’s fair for Congress to give itself a pay raise when it can’t stick to a budget,” said Walz. “I made a promise to the people of southern Minnesota, and I intend to keep it.”
Good for him.
We're off to snow shoe with an old college friend, and can't promise a news digest until tomorrow.