Editor’s note: This story was written before Rep. Guttenberg was taken to Bartlett Memorial Hospital to be treated for an unknown medical condition earlier today.
LEGISLATIVE PAY: THE JUNEAU EXCEPTION
Rep. Sam Kito, who chairs House Labor and Commerce, continued his habit of inconveniencing citizens (this time naturopaths) who traveled to the Capital City to testify on a bill, and instead continued discussion of a bill that impacts his political future: HB 309, a bill that rejects changes to legislative pay and per diem.
HB 309, sponsored by Fairbanks Rep. David Guttenberg, would reject all of the recommendations of the State Officers Compensation Commission, which cuts the salary of all legislators and decreases per diem of some legislators if session extends past 90 days.
Kito’s committee continued to review his recommendations for changing the bill on Wednesday.
For legislators to reject the salary commission’s recommendations outright is problematic in a year when they are running for office, but Guttenberg must be seen as a safe seat, drawing the short straw to carry the bill that is politically sensitive.
The salary commission recommendations impact Juneau legislators more than those from elsewhere, by dramatically cutting their per diem. Kito has been on record saying if the recommendations stand, he won’t run again because being a legislator is expensive. He added to that sentiment on Wednesday:
“This job has been costing me out of my savings, but not an excessive amount of money. I am single parent, head of household with a daughter in college, and it is not inexpensive. As an engineer, I was able to save up some money for her college,” he said. “With this reduction, I am in a situation now of having to choose whether I run again or whether I take money out of my daughter’s college account to continue this job, and I am not prepared to do that. So if we don’t resolve this issue, I already made the comment and will say here I will not run again. If the choice or the decision of the compensation commission was to pressure legislators to not run, they’ve succeeded, at least if [their recommendation] goes forward.”
Two Juneauites have filed for the District 33 seat: Democrat Sara Hannan and Undeclared candidate Chris Dimond.