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Should State Reps Be Paid More?

National Conference of State Legislatures
/
fivethirtyeight

Are higher-paid legislators better at running their states? There are two schools of thought. Many experts believe when it comes to state government, you get what you pay for. Conversely, states where lawmakers bring in higher salaries have often been linked with corruption. Even so, states like Texas with a very low legislative income are certainly not free from corruption. And low pay can limit state representation to the wealthy. For example, states like New Mexico have short legislative sessions, and lawmakers must leave their day jobs for one or two months every year and travel to the state capital. New Mexican lawmakers aren’t compensated at all for their service.

Here’s how the High Plains states stack up where legislative salaries are concerned:

At $51,960, Colorado legislators make about 15% less than the state’s median household income.

At $48,804, Oklahoma legislators make about 3% more than the state’s median household income.

At $27,761, Kansas legislators make about 47% less than the state’s median household income.

At $21,482, Nebraska legislators make about 60% less than the state’s median household income.

At $17,700, Texas legislators make about 66% less than the state’s median household income.

Only 12 states (including Oklahoma) pay their state legislators a salary that matches or exceeds the state’s median household income.