Proposed Legislation Won't Allow Commissioners To Up Pay Before Election - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

1/18/08-East Texas

Proposed Legislation Won't Allow Commissioners To Up Pay Before Election

Smith County Judge Joel Baker has had a change of heart about the pay raise he was set to get. He now says he's not going to take the last two years of the raise approved in July of last year. County commissioners had voted to raise his pay 45 percent over three years. He says "Something like a raise for commissioners should not stand in the way of Smith County having a serious discussion about our need for a jail."

He was responding to legislation drafted by state Rep. Leo Berman that will not allow county commissioners to accept a self-appointed pay raise, until they've gone through one election cycle. 

"If a seated elected official is going to raise their own pay, he should not be able to get a dime of that money before the voters put him back in office," says Senator Kevin Eltife. "And I think that's very fair on all sides."

"I absolutely support the legislation, I'm very results-oriented, I believe elected officials should produce results before they get pay raises so I think this will put some power in the hands on the people.," says JoAnn Fleming, Smith County Commissioner.

"Anybody who is elected to a state office knows what the salary is to begin with," says State Rep. Leo Berman. "If they're re-elected they can get the pay raise, they can't give themselves a pay raise and vote for it, and get it, until they're re-elected by their voting public."

It should be noted, Commissioner JoAnn Fleming only accepts half a commissioner's pay.

Representative Berman says he will offer this piece of legislation in November, to be decided in the January 2009 legislative session.

Tracy Watler, Reporting

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