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In response to Senator Karen Peterson’s (D-Stanton) letter to the editor in The News Journal on February 12, 2015:
We want to set the record straight. First, We will address Senator Peterson’s first point that our information on legislative salaries is incorrect. The difference is the Senator wants to compare the average legislative salary in 2007 and 2013 separately. This biases the data downward due to the high turnover in the Senate and the even higher turnover in the House. What we did was to view data from all years 2007-2013. The reason the data is different because of the turnover between legislators who left office, whether by election or some other cause. When we give the average pay we mean total pay, including expense stipends and leadership/committee position bonuses. We are not exclusively talking about base pay, which the Senator clearly is.

All of our data comes from the Delaware Office of Management and Budget (OMB) which we received by FOIA request. Using publicly available data Dr. Stapleford viewed legislative salaries from 2007-2013,. but divided legislators into two categories: Those who were members of the General Assembly for the duration of time 2007-2013, and those who were legislators in 2013 but not 2007.

All data below is for the following individuals who were in the State Senate in 2007 and are currently still in the State Senate (other pay is the $7,334 legislators are allowed for expenses, which we have included as part of their pay). Regular pay has factored in leadership bonuses.

Regular Overtime Other Total
Blevins,Patricia M $51,826 $0 $7,334 $59,160
Bonini,Colin R. J. $46,184 $0 $7,334 $53,518
Cloutier,Catherine Ann $51,958 $0 $7,334 $59,292
Ennis,Bruce C $46,487 $0 $7,334 $53,821
Hall-Long,Bethany $42,332 $0 $7,334 $49,666

All data below is from 2013:

Blevins,Patricia M $63,934 $0 $7,334 $71,268
Bonini,Colin R. J. $47,893 $0 $7,334 $55,227
Bushweller,Brian J $55,474 $0 $7,334 $62,809
Cloutier,Catherine Ann $53,667 $0 $7,334 $61,001
Ennis,Bruce C $53,667 $0 $7,334 $61,001
Hall-Long,Bethany $47,893 $0 $7,334 $55,227
Henry,Margaret R $49,841 $0 $9,328 $59,169
Hocker SR,Gerald $47,656 $0 $7,334 $54,990
Lavelle,Gregory F $51,835 $0 $7,334 $59,169
Lawson,David G $53,312 $0 $7,334 $60,646
Lopez,Ernesto Braulio $47,656 $0 $7,334 $54,990
McBride,David B $56,417 $0 $7,334 $63,751
McDowell,Harris B $55,500 $0 $7,334 $62,834
Peterson,Karen E $53,667 $0 $7,334 $61,001
Pettyjohn,Brian Guy $47,656 $0 $7,334 $54,990
Poore,Nicole $48,337 $0 $7,334 $55,671
Simpson,Franklin Gary $56,417 $0 $7,334 $63,751
Sokola,David P $49,701 $0 $7,334 $57,035
Townsend,Bryan Jeffrey Schurgard $47,656 $0 $7,334 $54,990
Venables Sr,Robert L $48,619 $0 $7,334 $55,953

As you can see if you look only at “regular”, or base, pay, Dr. Stapleford’s number is off the mark. But when you include other pay, these numbers increase. Title 29 Chapter 7 of the Delaware Code explains this further in detail.

The second charge by Senator Peterson is over the time legislators spend working. The work commitment for Delaware legislators of 6 months plus a few days comes directly from the Delaware code. (Not to mention that legislators not involved with the Joint Finance Committee are not required to work for this 5 week period) Legislators do attend meetings and events with constituents, lobbyists, and advocacy groups during the year but they are a) not mandated by law to do so and b) do not always do so for 40+ hours a week that most full-time salaried private sector workers are expected to work consistently.

We also want to point out according to the National Conference of State Legislators, Delaware ranks 12th in base salary for legislators. Each state has different session dates and while some states pay more and have fewer open dates than Delaware (Wisconsin, Illinois, Alaska, and Hawaii are also very generous with legislative pay), most states have part-time legislators who have similar responsibilities but get paid much less. We respect the Senator’s opinion on this but we do want to note that the majority of states do not have full-time legislators. Becoming an elected official ought to be a gesture of public service to one’s community, state, and country, not a full-time career path.

The third charge is over how legislative salaries are set. On this issue Senator Peterson is correct and CRI stands corrected on the original passage Dr. Stapleford published:

“To be clear, however, the legislators do not set their own salaries and stipends. This is done by the Delaware Compensation Commission of whom 5 out of 6 members are legislators and 1 member is from the private sector.”

From Title 29 of the Delaware Code, Section 3301:

“There is established a commission known as the “Delaware Compensation Commission,” hereinafter referred to as the “Commission,” consisting of 6 members, 2 of whom shall be appointed by the Governor, 1 by the President Pro Tempore of the Senate and 1 by the Speaker of the House of Representatives. The fifth member shall be the President of the Delaware Round Table. The Director of the Office of Management and Budget of the State shall serve as an ex officio and nonvoting member of the Commission. The appointees shall be persons not holding any public office nor employed substantially full-time with compensation by this State while serving on this Commission.”

The bottom line is that in 2013, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average wage in Kent County was $40,664 a year and in Sussex the average wage was $37,856, less than the average State Senator’s pay but without the allowance for up to six months of non-work time. Even factoring in New Castle County, the average wage in 2013 $53,820, which is still less than what all of our State Senators made that same year.

*Update: We are including State Representative data as well. We note the average pay for a Representative in 2013 was $55,801, or a little over $3,000 less than state senators. We’ll note that 14 state reps made than than the average wage but all cleared $50,000 once the constitutionally-mandated expense stipend is factored in.

Name base pay overtime other pay total pay
Barbieri,Michael $44,041 $0 $7,334 $51,375
Baumbach,Paul S $44,041 $0 $7,334 $51,375
Bennett,Andria L $47,834 $0 $7,334 $55,168
Bolden,Stephanie T $47,834 $0 $7,334 $55,168
Brady,Gerald L $48,549 $0 $7,334 $55,883
Carson Jr,William J $53,519 $0 $7,334 $60,853
Dukes,Timothy Dale $44,041 $0 $7,334 $51,375
Gray,Ronald E $44,041 $0 $7,334 $51,375
Heffernan,Debra J $53,519 $0 $7,334 $60,853
Hudson,Deborah $51,865 $0 $7,334 $59,199
Jaques JR,Earl G $44,041 $0 $7,334 $51,375
Johnson,James $53,667 $0 $7,334 $61,001
Johnson,Samuel Q $48,549 $0 $7,334 $55,883
Keeley,Helene M $47,904 $0 $7,334 $55,238
Kenton,Harvey R $53,519 $0 $7,334 $60,853
King,Ruth Briggs $44,189 $0 $7,334 $51,523
Kowalko JR,John A. $44,111 $0 $7,334 $51,445
Longhurst,Valerie J $56,417 $0 $7,334 $63,751
Miro,Joseph E $53,667 $0 $7,334 $61,001
Mitchell,John L $44,189 $0 $7,334 $51,523
Mulrooney,Michael P $47,893 $0 $7,334 $55,227
Osienski,Edward S $44,041 $0 $7,334 $51,375
Outten,William R $47,834 $0 $7,334 $55,168
Paradee III,William Charles $44,041 $0 $7,334 $51,375
Peterman,Harold J $47,834 $0 $7,334 $55,168
Potter,Charles $44,041 $0 $7,334 $51,375
Ramone,Michael J $47,893 $0 $7,334 $55,227
Schwartzkopf,Peter C $63,934 $0 $7,334 $71,268
Short,Bryon H $44,041 $0 $7,334 $51,375
Short,Daniel B $56,447 $0 $7,334 $63,781
Smith,Melanie George $55,472 $0 $7,334 $62,806
Smyk,Stephen T $44,041 $0 $7,334 $51,375
Spiegelman,Jeffrey N $44,041 $0 $7,334 $51,375
Viola,John J $51,865 $0 $7,334 $59,199
Williams,Kimberly A $44,041 $0 $7,334 $51,375
Wilson,David L $47,834 $0 $7,334 $55,168

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