Despite his opposition, Sen. Tom Dempsey, R-St. Peters, says a pay raise for judges is likely to take place this year:
This week the House and Senate observed an annual tradition by formally meeting in a rare joint session to listen to the governor lay out his priorities for the coming year. Commonly referred to as the “State of the State” address, this speech serves as an opportunity for the governor to give us his proposed budget and to highlight his goals. One area of common ground set forth in his speech is the goal of creating jobs. While the governor proposes to consolidate some business incentives and streamline employee training programs, much more can be done.
In the Senate we will be pushing an aggressive pro-jobs agenda. Bringing jobs to Missouri means creating an environment where the businesses that create jobs can succeed. We can do this by protecting these potential employers from excessive taxes and from unfair legal liability. As has been discussed before in this column, we will prioritize capping or even repealing the state’s business franchise tax., fixing holes in Missouri’s workers’ comp system and restoring balance to the our employment law statutes.
In other news this week, the Senate Rules Committee voted down a resolution that would have blocked a pay raise for Missouri judges. Under the Missouri Constitution, the Citizens’ Commission on Compensation meets and recommends a pay scale for elected officials and judges. If the Legislature doesn’t reject these recommendations within 30 days, they automatically go into effect. The commission recommended no pay hikes for legislators but did propose a pay raise for Missouri judges.
I voted to stop this pay raise but, unfortunately, I was in the minority and the pay raise is likely to become law. With a lean state budget and weak economy, this is not the proper time to be increasing judicial salaries. With high unemployment, many Missourians are grateful just to have a job at all. While our judges perform a very important service, so do many other Missourians who are not getting a pay raise.
This week, the Senate also took up and passed a resolution calling on Missouri’s attorney general to join 25 other states in a lawsuit against the federal government’s misguided healthcare law. Each state and its citizens need to be free to make decisions about their own health insurance. Flexibility in this area would promote free market solutions and lower prices. Washington’s “one-size-fits-all” approach signals a loss of liberty, greater regulation and higher prices.