Oregon State Senate Majority Leader Ginny Burdick is leading a legislative effort to increase the salary of state lawmakers by 63% or about $20,000 annually in order to attract more diverse candidates to the legislature. According to Burdick, Oregon is a diverse state that needs a diverse legislature but low pay is automatically screening out people who should be represented in the legislature.
The Associated Press (AP) reported that the pay initiative came just a few weeks after state legislators were given a 28% raise which increased their annual salary to $31,200. They are also paid $149 each day during the legislative session. The recent increase will cost the state government more than $800,000 every year. It is uncertain whether the state can afford the proposed salary increase given that local leaders have already called for spending reduction in almost all state programs. But Burdick insists that her plan is important to create a more diverse legislature.