ATLANTA (AP) — The Georgia House on Wednesday passed a bill that would cut salaries for members of the General Assembly by 10% amid an economic downturn brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.
After a lengthy debate, the House voted 106-51 in favor of Senate Bill 416, sending it back to the Senate for consideration of House changes.
The bill would cut lawmakers’ yearly salary of more than $17,350 by 10% in the budget year beginning July 1. Lawmakers would still get their full daily expense pay. Republican Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan’s pay of nearly $92,000 a year would be cut by 14%, a cut he has volunteered for.
Lawmakers say they want to give up part of their pay to show they are sharing in the suffering of state agencies, K-12 schools, universities and others that are likely to face 10% budget cuts after state tax revenue fell.
The Senate on Tuesday approved an 11% cut for lawmakers in a different bill.
“As elected officials, this is an important step, an important message,” said Rep. Houston Gaines, a Republican from Athens who introduced the bill.
Not all legislators agreed with the action.
“You should take from those who’ve got something, because you don’t pay us enough to move the scale,” said Rep. Al Williams, a Democrat from Midway. Williams noted that while the session is only 40 days, legislators have year-round responsibilities, including communicating with constituents.