By BECKY BOHRER
JUNEAU— Alaska lawmakers will continue to receive an annual salary of $50,400 after a special commission deadlocked on whether to cut the pay by 10 percent starting next year.
The vote by the State Officers Compensation Commission was 2-2, with one member absent Tuesday.
The idea behind the proposed cut was that lawmakers shouldn’t be exempt from the pain arising from budget constraints. Alaska faces an ongoing budget deficit. But critics questioned the basis for the proposal and that level of cut.
Commission member Duane Bannock dismissed as nonsense concerns that a 10-percent salary reduction could dissuade people from running for the House or Senate. He said the commission “has a duty and a responsibility to keep government in check.”
But another member, Richard Strutz, said he didn’t like the idea of reducing someone’s pay.
Lawmakers can claim a daily allowance while in session, and the commission unanimously voted to keep the per diem at the federal level. However, the commission decided that if a lawmaker’s primary residence is within 50 miles of where the session is held, they would not be eligible for per diem.
Just three legislators live in Juneau, the state capital. More would be affected during any special sessions held in Anchorage.
Kate Sheehan, director of the state division of personnel and labor relations, said unless a bill disapproving the recommendation is passed it will become law within 60 days after being submitted to the governor and Legislature.