Oklahoma Commission Slashes Lawmaker Salaries

Nov 16, 2017

The panel that sets the salaries for Oklahoma's lawmakers said Thursday that legislative pay should be more in line with the average Oklahoman.

Legislative pay in Oklahoma is second compared with other states in the region, and with per diem, lawmakers make more than $48,000 dollars during the four month session. That’s almost equal to the median annual household income for the state.

Those statistics led the Oklahoma Legislative Compensation Commission to consider cuts in pay between 8 and 20 percent.

Commission Chairman Wes Milbourn say voters are mad about performance at the state capitol, but that wasn’t the only consideration.

"A lot of Oklahomans are suffering, and we’re just bringing their pay, again not punitive, but bringing their pay in with what is fair."

By a 4 to 3 vote, the panel narrowly decided to cut base salaries 8.8 percent. That’s about $3,400 dollars for each lawmaker and will save the state more than $500,000 per year. Dissenters on the board said the cut should have been more.

In a statement, House Speaker Charles McCall said that today’s vote may have an unintended effect.

"Cutting compensation ensures that in the future many lower-income but capable citizens won’t be able to run for the Legislature. Only those with financial means will have the opportunity to represent citizens at the Capitol."

The salary cut will take effect in November 2018.