Could legislative wages on the ballot be a counter measure to a VNOE movement on ballot measures?

In an article at this morning, apparently lawmakers are set to give raising their salaries another go for the first time in nearly 20 years:

The South Dakota Executive Board on Monday is set to consider a resolution that would tie lawmakers’ paychecks to the state’s median household income. And that would likely mean a 70 percent raise for the state’s 105 lawmakers.

Currently, South Dakota legislators receive $6,000 a year in addition to per diem payments and some reimbursement for mileage.

The resolution’s supporters want to set legislator salaries at one-fifth of the most recent median household income. According to the 2015 U.S. Census, South Dakota’s median household income was $50,957 for that year, which would put lawmakers’ salaries around $10,191 annually.

The raise is warranted, supporters said, as lawmakers haven’t seen their salaries grow since 1998, though per diem has inched up over the last two decades. Their buying power is at the lowest rate since the current payment mechanism was adopted in 1946, according to the Legislative Research Council, and some are struggling to make ends meet under the current salary.

Read it here.

While South Dakota’s legislative salaries are among the lowest in the nation and probably should be increased, as a stand alone item salary increases for our elected officials tend to be rejected by voters, as well as being the subject of grandstanding by those who are in campaign mode against those who supported it.

Coming in a year when we’re likely to have a long ballot when looking at the number of voter proposed measures to appear, some may argue against it on that basis, claiming that the sheer number of initiated measures is validation that they don’t deserve it, despite the measures on the ballot not having been brought to the legislative body first.

And it may face further opposition if certain groups come out with an effort to tell voters “Vote No on Everything” (VNOE for short).

Looking at it cynically, one might wonder if this is a bit of a chess move to counter the VNOE movement, as the tech school measure in 2016 caused similar dissent among those who considered banding together to oppose everything, but abandoned the idea because of popular support for tech schools.

Stay tuned. 2018 could get even more interesting, if that was possible.

18 Replies to “Could legislative wages on the ballot be a counter measure to a VNOE movement on ballot measures?”

  1. Jaa Dee

    VNOE, is a real display of the stupidity of so-called conservatives.. Should abortion be banned? Should musilms be banned? Should taxes be lowered.? etc…

    1. KM

      You are asking if murder should be banned? Sharia Law? I’m going to say, yes.

      Not the almighty Jaa Dee though, you’re okay with death to anyone who disagrees with you or is an inconvenience.

    2. Springer

      Last time I looked, these were not on the ballot. The VNOE movement is simply in response to the mostly out of state backed idea people who keep pushing these ideas on the voters of South Dakota. Maybe by voting no on everything we can convince these people to try another state and leave us alone. It would be too bad if some good ideas get caught up in that.

    3. Anonymous

      Should abortion be banned? Yes. Should muslims be banned? No. Should sharia law be banned from acting as law in this country? Yes. Should taxes be lowered? Yes, across the board (sorry, leftwing class warriors). Should Jaa Dee’s opinion on what constitutes Conservatism be taken seriously? No.

  2. Anonymous

    $4200 a year for each of the 105 legislators is still $441,000

    VNOE still stands…Mickelson is 0 for 3 in my book and the other liberal driven measures are non starters


  3. Charlie Hoffman

    Heck why not make the SD Legislature only accessible to the super rich and wealthy retired by getting rid of all salary and per diem. Make it like school boards in small towns where folks are begged to run. sssssssarcassssssm

  4. Anonymous

    Why would this require a ballot measure? The state constitution allows the Legislature to set its salary with a 2/3 vote of each house.

  5. Springer

    How much does a legislator make in per diem annually? How much is a legislator making in mileage allowance (and the 5 cents per mile –i think that is the amount– is only for the first and last trips to Pierre)? What is the total amount a legislator makes per year? Not saying they might not need a raise, but I want the whole picture first.

    1. grudznick

      Well, wouldn’t it be 40 or 38 days times $142? Not including the meetings in the offseason. Mileage is just mileage. Most of those fellows probably don’t carpool with others. So remember they get another $5K for this per diem, but then they also have to rent a room in somebody’s basement. All their food and booze is free. I don’t begrudge them the free food and booze, but I think they should have to produce receipts for the food they buy and only get reimbursed for that, and the legislatures could all sleep in the state owned dorms somewhere in Pierre.

      1. MC

        A couple of years ago I had hatched a plan to purchase some Amtrak passenger cars, and then retro fit them into office spaces and living quarters for legislators. During session, the cars would be parked on a siding in Pierre or Fort Pierre, and connected to commercial power, cable, water and sewer. Out of session the cars would be parked on a siding in or close the legislator’s district and serve as an legislative ‘constituent’ office. Legislators would be able to put their personal affects in the living space before session and be ready to at the start. Special cars could be added like lounge cars or a diner. I know this would work for all legislators it would for a good number of them.

        I kind of moved the idea to the back burner, once I realized the cost. I put the idea on the shelf as a ‘Some day’ idea, knowing the idea just wouldn’t fly.

  6. Kelly Lieberg

    Why is the comparison that of and individual and that of a household ? Avg size of a household is greater than 1.

  7. Anonymous

    I agree with Charlie. You get what you pay for and as of late, we shouldn’t be paying them anything. Per Diem doesn’t even cover expenses so that’s hardly a salary to consider.
    Set it at $9,000 with a 2% annual raise and spare the voters.


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