Compensation for Legislators (S.39) - April 13, 2023

The compensation and benefits bill for legislators, S.39, hit the Senate floor on Thursday. Senator White presented the bill on behalf of the Government Operations Committee and was followed by Senator Baruth for the Appropriations Committee.

White gave a spirited presentation of what she called the two main rationales for the bill; this job is a “calling” and legislators have a “right” to reasonable compensation. Following some opening comments she read from Chapter II Section 61 of the Vermont Constitution. She highlighted the following sentence:

But if any person is called into public service to the prejudice of that person’s private affairs, the person has a right to a reasonable compensation…”

White then exclaimed excitedly that legislators should “hold in your head the idea of any person called into public service.” She emphasized that public service is a calling, and that they have a right to reasonable compensation. White continued on to say that “just compensation” was the “only right thing to do” in order to preserve the “vast number of women” finally serving in the statehouse.

NOTE: The bulk of the Ch. II Article 61 that White referenced is actually about the divisive and corrupting influences of a professional class of political office holders. The rest of the provision she skipped reads as the following:

“and whenever an office through increase of fees or otherwise, becomes so profitable as to occasion many to apply for it, the profit ought to be lessened by the Legislature.”

The bill would create a benefits package for state employees including:

  • A professional development stipend.
  • Health insurance.
  • Child care and dependent elder care.

It would also redefine legislators as state employees and more than double their compensation from $589 per week to $1,210. The House Speaker and Senate Pro Tempore would receive a base compensation of nearly $21,000 annually with an additional $1,340 per week the legislature is in session.

NOTE: If we assume the legislative session lasts 20 weeks, legislators would make $24,200 per session. Legislative leaders would make $47,500. If we annualized these earnings, their compensation would be $62,920 and $72,380, respectively.

The Appropriations Committee version reduced legislative pay to $1,000 per week for 2025 and reduced leadership’s compensation to $1,230 per week along with an annual salary of $19,000. However, all three compensation numbers are set to increase aggressively over the next three legislative sessions.

Senator Ingalls proposed an amendment that would set legislative compensation at $1,660 per week with a limit of a 13-week legislative session. The amendment failed on a voice vote.

A roll call vote was called for and the underlying bill passed on a 19-10-1 vote.


The bill was brought up for third reading the following day and was passed on a division of the Senate 18-9-3.

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  • Joseph Fontana
    commented 2023-04-16 17:06:13 -0400
    Has greed taken over common sense given the tax burden of Vermont citizens?
  • Joseph Fontana
    followed this page 2023-04-16 17:04:44 -0400
  • Ben Kinsley
    published this page in News 2023-04-15 22:41:13 -0400

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