By Rep. Darrio Melton
This legislative session, we have watched the Alabama Republican supermajority waste tax payer money and avoid doing the jobs they were elected to do.
Each day the House has convened this legislative session, they have only worked for two to three hours before adjourning. This is an attempt to slow down the legislative process and avoid discussing any tough issues. This is the coward’s way out and it’s inexcusable.
When we are elected to represent our districts, we are elected to stand for the needs and interests of our districts, not collect a paycheck and hide from the state’s problems in an effort to appear more re-electable in November.
The worst part? The legislators are doing less work with more pay and benefits than their staff or the average constituent.
The Alabama legislative calendar consists of 30 legislative days spread over three months. For each of those 30 days, legislators receive a $50 per diem, or daily pay. For the days when the legislature is not in session, legislators receive a $10 per diem. Legislators also receive an automatic cost of living increase every April 1.
This is cowardly and hypocritical in several ways. They run as “fiscal conservatives” but they’re wasting your hard-earned tax dollars!
When they insist on adjourning after only two to three hours of work, they’re getting paid between $16 and $25 per hour, yet they’re adjourning to prevent discussing paying our workers better than starvation wages.
When they collect their annual cost of living increase each April, they are collecting a benefit that they repeatedly tell state employees and teachers we can’t afford.
I say “they” because there are representatives in the Alabama House who are fighting for an increase to the minimum wage. There are legislators who are fighting for a pay raise for teachers and state employees and to link Alabama’s workers to the cost of living index. There are legislators who aren’t afraid of working a full day, facing the tough issues and standing up for their districts.
And there are legislators who are most concerned about their own interests.. But as we know, the time is always right to do what is right and what is right is not always what is easy.
Hold the Alabama Republican supermajority responsible in November. Remember that they chose their interests over their districts and vote them out.
The time is right to do what is right.
Representative Darrio Melton is a Democrat from Selma. He was elected to the Alabama House of Representatives in 2010.