Nevada lawmakers unlikely to boost their own salaries
January 7, 2019
LAS VEGAS — As Nevada state lawmakers prepare to kick off their annual legislative session next month, they'll be bringing home comparatively low salaries, which the part-time legislators have been reluctant to raise.
Lawmakers receive about $9,000 for work during the state's 120-day session held in odd-numbered years, along with a per-diem for expenses that totals about $16,800.
That's far below the pay that lawmakers in roughly 20 states receive, according to numbers compiled by the National Conference of State Legislatures. Alabama legislators receive about $46,000 while California lawmakers receive more than $100,000 a year.
While some political experts contend that higher pay allows people to serve who can't otherwise afford to take time off work, others contend that higher pay can lead to career politicians.
University of Nevada, Las Vegas history professor Michael Green says Nevada's tight lawmaker pay is tied to the state Constitution's establishment of a part-time Legislature. "It was partly that they didn't expect the legislators to spend much time there, and it certainly wasn't going to be their main job, so paying them only a little bit was not an issue," Green said.
The state constitution's framers also wanted to discourage people from serving for long periods of time, he said.
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Attempts to raise Nevada lawmakers' pay have been unpopular, the Las Vegas Sun reported.
In 2013, then-state Sen. Tick Segerblom proposed raising lawmakers pay to $24,000 per session, in addition to making it an annual session. But the measure, which needed to be approved by lawmakers twice, failed to pass in their 2017 session.
A similar effort in 1989 to boost lawmaker pensions was met with heavy opposition.
"I think many have the attitude that candidates knew the pay when they ran and by running they implicitly accepted it," said Michael Bowers, a UNLV political science professor.
It's unclear if legislators will try to raise their pay again when their 2019 session convenes next month.
So far, legislators have not pre-filed any bills to raise their pay.