Up & Coming Weekly

December 21, 2021

Up and Coming Weekly is a weekly publication in Fayetteville, NC and Fort Bragg, NC area offering local news, views, arts, entertainment and community event and business information.

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WWW.UPANDCOMINGWEEKLY.COM DECEMBER 22-28, 2021 UCW 5 OPINION is conversation happens dur- ing most elections in North Caro- lina since members of the General Assembly run every two years. Perhaps the 170 elected legislators who fund North Carolina's govern- mental operations, enact laws that require us to take some actions and not to take others, and — increas- ingly, steer public policy — should get a raise. North Carolinians have long prid- ed ourselves on our "citizen legisla- ture," a body to which most anyone at least 25 years old could, at least theoretically, get themselves elect- ed. is belief stems from the days when the General Assembly met in odd-numbered years in what was called the "long session" and in which most of the body's work was done, and a "short session" in the even-numbered years which mostly cleaned up work from the prior ses- sion. Legislating was, again, at least theoretically, a part-time job. If that were ever true, it certainly is not now. e General Assembly meets almost year-round at the direction — some would say whim — of leg- islative leadership. Such a schedule makes it difficult, if not impos- sible, for members to hold down regular jobs and wreaks havoc on their personal lives. And, for this, they are paid $13,952 annually, one of the lowest legislative salaries in the nation and which has not been raised since 1995. ink for a moment how you and your family would be doing if your pay had not budged in nearly three decades. And your reimbursement for daily food and lodging in an expensive city, like Raleigh, is a miserly $104 per day when the General Assem- bly is in session. Legislators have been known to sleep in their offices and cars and camp out at the state fairgrounds. As Western Carolina University political science profes- sor Chris Cooper puts it, the situ- ation "selects for certain kinds of people, and those are people with money and flexibility." e result of this unaddressed situation is that even though we like to think of our legislature as a citizen legislature, it is a myth. Ordinary folks cannot afford to run for these positions, much less serve in them. at means that the North Carolina General Assem- bly is composed of independently wealthy individuals who are not dependent on a regular paycheck. Individuals who have spouses who support them or employers willing to work with their erratic legisla- tive schedules, not always for all the right reasons. Only a handful of current sitting legislators have regular jobs, children in public schools and shared family respon- sibilities. In short, they are not average North Carolinians. e reason for this ongoing crazi- ness is that legislators do not want to be on record voting to give them- selves a raise. ey have night- mares about the mailers and TV ads political opponents would run against them in the next election if they did so. is means the General Assembly continues to skew older, wealthier and less representative. e U.S. Congress took care of this issue for its members years ago by initiating cost of living raises linked to thousands of other high- ranking federal positions. ese raises do not have to be voted on, although they can be stopped if Congress chooses, which it has done occasionally. is means that people of relatively ordinary means can and do serve in our U.S. Congress. Until the North Carolina General Assembly discovers its collective courage and addresses its salary issue in some form — an actual raise, a raise tied to a cost of living index, or a commission to set its salary perhaps, North Carolinians will continue to get the representa- tion we pay for, or in this instance, do not pay for. With luck and a healthy dose of legislative fortitude, this could hap- pen in 2022. MARGARET DICKSON, Columnist. COMMENTS? Editor@ upandcomingweekly.com. 910-484-6200. What? Pay Our Legislators More? by MARGARET DICKSON Photo courtesy of Pexels For the last 20 years, Express has been widely known for supplying temporary laborers. About half of our jobs are long term! They are for: • Skilled Labor • Administrative • Professional Express is here for you! Call us today! (910) 437-5959 (910) 437-5959 • 894 Elm Street • Fayetteville, NC 28303 www.fayettevillenc.expresspros.com We are so much more

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