New Jersey Lawmakers Set To Nearly Double Their Own Salaries To $82,000

Legislative committees in both chambers have approved significant salary increases for members, marking the first hike in over two decades. In a last-minute amendment, the bill was revised to propose even larger salaries than originally planned.

The bill, which passed through party-line votes, proposes raising the annual salary of lawmakers from the current $49,000 to $82,000 by 2026, a notable increase from the $75,000 suggested in an earlier version. Additionally, the bill includes pay raises for various state employees, including the future governor.

Senator Dick Codey, the bill’s chief sponsor, emphasized the necessity of these increases. “These problems are not just about quality of life, they are about quality of government,” he said. Codey highlighted the need for competitive salaries to retain talented public servants in New Jersey.

The bill also suggests higher salaries for the Senate president and Assembly speaker, approximately $109,000. Furthermore, it proposes increasing legislators’ staff allowance from $135,000 to $150,000 and raising salary caps for executive directors of each caucus and members of Governor Phil Murphy’s cabinet from $175,000 to $210,000. These changes are set to take effect in 2024, with the amended bill removing provisions for retroactive increases to top staff through July 2023.

The governor’s salary would also rise from $175,000 to $210,000, effective with the inauguration of Murphy’s successor in early 2026.

The bill has sparked debate, particularly in the Assembly Appropriations Committee, where Republican members criticized the proposed salary levels. Assemblyman Brian Bergen (R-Morris) argued against the raise, stating, “There’s legitimately nobody who believes that we should be paid $82,000. I can assure you no sane person thinks this is logical. We don’t deserve it. This is a part-time job.”

Democrats, however, see the salary increase as a means to diversify the Legislature, currently dominated by professionals with flexible schedules. “I don’t think passing these raises is ever easy, but I would like to see us diversify what we do,” said Assemblywoman Eliana Pintor Marin (D-Essex).

The bill, introduced on Tuesday and set for a Senate floor vote on Monday, received minimal public testimony and discussion before the Senate’s budget committee. It also extends salary adjustments for judicial officials, with an annual cap of 2% inflation indexing, to be recalculated until December 2026.

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