Raise for Missouri lawmakers inches closer to taking effect

SUMMER BALLENTINE
Associated Press
The Rolla Daily News

JEFFERSON CITY — An attempt to block raises for Missouri statewide elected officials failed on Thursday, meaning the governor and lawmakers will likely get a pay bump. 

The House on Thursday voted 97-11 to stop the raises, several votes short of the two-thirds majority needed. The House and Senate then adjourned until Monday, when the raises will be locked in. 

In Missouri, an independent citizens commission decides the salaries for statewide elected officials and state lawmakers. The commission's recommendations automatically take effect unless the Legislature votes to block them. 

The citizen panel recommended 5% raises spread out over two years, beginning in July. 

The pay hike would bring up most lawmakers' salaries by about $1,800. They are currently paid less than $36,000 a year. 

"If you're paying somebody less than $36,000 to do one of these jobs up here and be away from their family, I think you're missing a lot of talent that would be very worthwhile to have up here in state government," Republican Gov. Mike Parson said Thursday. 

Republican House Majority Floor Leader Dean Plocher voted to reject the pay raise, but he said he doesn't generally believe that lawmakers should have a say over their salary.

"I question why we vote on it," he said.

Associated Press writer David A. Lieb contributed to this report.