Skip to Content
Everything Else

Oklahoma Lawmakers Are Getting A Ridiculous 35% Pay Raise…

9:34 AM EDT on October 16, 2019

It's a good day to be an Oklahoma lawmaker!

In appreciation for the important role they played in turning Oklahoma into a Top 10 utopia that all other state's strive to be, the people of our fine state have voted to give their humble and virtuous public servants and fighters of the common good – Oklahoma lawmakers – a well-deserved 35-percent pay raise.

Wait. Let me start that over.

Earlier this week, a group of cronies chosen by Oklahoma's now buddy-buddy Legislative and Executive branches voted to give Oklahoma lawmakers an astronomical 35-percent pay raise.

Here's how The Oklahoman explains it:

Oklahoma legislators will see a 35% pay bump next year.

The Legislative Compensation Board voted Tuesday to boost legislators’ annual pay from $35,021 to $47,500, their first pay raise in 20 years.

Jesus Christ. And I thought that 2.5% cost of living raise I got each year when I worked at KFOR was a big deal. 35-percent raise?! That's a lot of dicks to... nevermind.

The pay bump comes in stark contrast to the actions the compensation board took two years ago when its members voted to cut legislators’ pay by 8.8%. At the time, board members said the pay cut reflected Oklahomans’ frustration with the Legislature as lawmakers dealt with a budget shortfall amid growing demands for teacher pay raises.

But the board that met Tuesday was comprised of all new members. Some of the new board members, unfamiliar with prior board actions and perhaps the political climate two years ago, questioned why the previous board cut legislator pay at all.

How can you be unfamiliar with the Oklahoma political climate in 2017 and then be appointed to a board that literally oversees Oklahoma legislative salaries? It seems like having some knowledge of local politics would be a prerequisite to serve on a board that oversees legislative salaries.

Regardless, tell us more about this "Legislative Compensation Board." It's obviously a diverse mix of individuals from all backgrounds who are representative of all Oklahoma people, right?

The board is made up of non-elected officials appointed by the governor, House Speaker and Senate Pro Tem. The board also has two nonvoting members.

Jonathan Dodson, a board member and Oklahoma City developer, noted legislators hadn’t received pay raises since 1999 and simply adjusting for cost of living changes would require boosting their pay by more than $20,000.

Increasing legislators’ salaries also allows people from different backgrounds to seek elected office, he said.

“We’re really trying to get the brightest from our state to go run and represent us,” he said. “Whether it is a single parent, or they’re in the fire department, they’re retired or it’s their first job, those are the people we’re trying to draw.”

Wow. Can you believe it? The local land developer who has a lot to gain by giving politicians a 35-percent pay raise voted to give politicians a 35-percent pay raise. That kind of makes me miss the good old days when businessmen and other power brokers had to use their own money to win political favor. Now they just have the taxpayers foot the bill!

Seriously, what a weak excuse. Are we really supposed to believe that bumping legislative salary from $35K to $47K is going to convince "the brightest" from our state to suddenly run for public office? If you believe that oversimplified BS that ignores the real reasons people seek public office, then I have some gentrified land on NW 23rd that I'd like to sell you.

Another person who voted to give Oklahoma lawmakers a 35-percent pay raise was local political pundit Scott Mitchell. According to Non Doc – an "independent" political website that takes money from PACs, lobbyists and other special interests, and has openly endorsed pay raises for lawmakers in the past – Mitchell wanted to raise salaries to $52,000 a year! Here he is posing with a couple of his happy lawmaker buddies that he just rewarded with a pay raise:

Yeah, no conflict of interest there. We just have a guy in the media who cozies up to lawmakers for a living voting to give those very same lawmakers a big pay raise. It's a good thing hardly anyone watches or cares about local political talk shows, or it may damage Mitchell's credibility.

Only one board member voted against the pay raise – Tyler Media's Robert DeNegri.

Board Chairman Robert DeNegri, the chief financial officer for Tyler Media, proposed restoring legislator pay to where it was before it was cut and then raising that by roughly 10% to $42,500.

DeNegri, who voted against the 35% pay boost, warned the board Oklahomans would focus on news headlines about increased pay for legislators.

Well, at least someone in the room wasn't a sellout.

I've searched everywhere on the internet to find out the other board members and their votes, but oddly enough, that information doesn't seem to be readily available anywhere. I guess that's fine. More transparency in this process would make it much more challenging to give Oklahoma lawmakers an undeserved pay raise.

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter