The following editorial appeared in the Fayetteville Observer:
The General Assembly began this year’s session in January. The fiscal year ended June 30. We’re three weeks into July and still without a budget. And there’s none in sight.
We don’t know when lawmakers will adjourn this year, but a miniature Christmas tree appeared on the Senate dais last month. Maybe it wasn’t a joke.
According to The Associated Press, the average two-year session in recent years has lasted 317 days. With their $13,951 base salary and assuming eight-hour days, that puts lawmakers at about $11 an hour before you even consider the time they spend on the job in their districts. They may be working for less than minimum wage, all told – which could give critics the opening to say we’re getting our money’s worth.
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There are two ways to solve this. One is a firm limit on the number of days in session, like most states have. Or switch to a full-time legislature, which is what most of our fellow top-10-population states do.
We see problems and benefits in both approaches, but wouldn’t rule out either. It’s time, we think, for a blue-ribbon commission to look at the best way to get state legislative business done,and then to follow the commission’s advice. What we have now isn’t working all that well.
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