11th Hour Move To Raise Lawmakers' Per Diem Seen As Ironic By Teachers' Advocates
Arizona lawmakers approved tripling their own daily allowance at the 11th hour of the legislative session.
Rural lawmakers, who drove into town and often paid for lodging during the session, will now receive a $60 daily stipend during the legislature's first 120 days.
Some lawmakers hoped all House members would vote for its passage to help avoid political backlash.
But several votes fell off as the bill allowed in-town lawmakers to also triple their own per diem to a $92.50 a day.
That decision drew sharp criticism from education advocates.
"I can't get beyond the irony of your plight and how it is so incredibly parallel to what is going on with teachers," said Christine Marsh, 2016's Arizona Teacher of the Year, who spoke to lawmakers on the last day of session.
Marsh and others have opposed legislators receiving pay raises one week after refusing to restore all state aid cut from public schools during the recession.
The current salary for state lawmakers is $24,000. Voters must approve a raise and have not done so since 1998.