Ohio lawmakers, the governor and other elected leaders would be in line for a pay raise under a bill approved by the Ohio House on Thursday.
The bill still needs to be signed by Gov. John Kasich to be come law but the governor expressed distaste for the pay raises, especially since they are coming during the lame duck session.
On Thursday, the governor referred to it as “this grubby pay bill.”
It passed the House, 68-20. The Senate agreed to House changes, 26-5.
The pay hike provisions were folded into a bill that calls for health care benefits for the widows and kids of police and firefighters killed in the line of duty. State Rep. Michele Lepore-Hagan, D-Youngstown, called the move “disgusting.”
State Rep. Niraj Antani, R-Miamisburg, opposed the pay raise, saying inserting it into another piece of legislation didn’t give Ohioans any time to weigh in on the matter.
State Rep. Dan Ramos, D-Lorain, said “I think a legislative pay raise is long overdue.”
The proposal calls for lawmakers receiving a 4 percent pay increase in 2020, 3 percent in 2021 and 1.75 percent each year between 2022 to 2028. Their current base pay of $60,584 would increase to $73,167 by 2028.
Stipends for leadership and committee chairmanship posts would also be increased. For example, lawmakers chairing the House or Senate finance committees would earn an extra $13,500 in annual pay and the minority party leaders in each chamber would earn $89,612 a year.
Advocates for the pay bump argue that lawmakers haven’t seen a raise since 2008.
Currently, Ohio lawmakers are the sixth highest paid state legislators in the country, according to a 2016 survey conducted by the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Legislators may only vote on pay raises for future lawmakers, not themselves. So a pay hike vote now would take effect for the next General Assembly, which convenes in January. State senators who were not up for re-election in November would not be eligible for the pay hike.
The bill included an emergency clause, meaning it would take effect immediately rather than 90 days after a governor signs it. Because it doesn’t have an appropriation, the governor doesn’t have a line item veto power. Overriding a veto requires 60 votes in the House and 20 in the Senate.
The pay changes apply to other elected leaders as well: governor, lieutenant governor, other statewide officers, judges and justices of the state supreme court, county and township officers.
Judges, sheriffs and prosecutors would be in line for 1.75 percent pay increases each year for 2020 to 2028; other county officeholders would receive 5 percent raises in 2019 and 2020, followed by 1.75 percent increases from 2021 to 2028; township officers and board of election members would receive 1.75 percent each year from 2019 to 2028.
The bill also creates a nine-member pay advisory committee to annually review public official pay issues.
The Council of State Governments reports that in 2016, governor salaries averaged $137,415 and they ranged from $70,000 in Maine to $190,823 in Pennsylvania. Ohio’s governor pay ranked 33rd among the 50 states.
Local lawmakers voting against the pay raise bill were: Niraj Antani, John Becker, Jim Butler, Steve Huffman and Paul Zeltwanger.
Voting in favor were: Tom Brinkman, Mike Henne, Kyle Koehler, George Lang, Scott Lipps, Rick Perales, Wes Retherford, and Fred Strahorn.