In The Loop – December 2, 2022

It’s a New Hill to Climb in Hartford

The election is over, the voters have decided and now we’re all in limbo as the retiring legislators wrap up their public service careers. On Monday, most in the Capitol were focused on the special session since it was called by the governor to extend the gas tax relief, provide additional financial recognition for the front line essential workers, who were there when CT needed them the most, and a few other hot topics. But what the public might not know, is that there were also plenty of standing ovations, cheers, funny stories and even some tears as the CT legislature bid farewell to the 35 outgoing state legislators. As we’ve discussed in earlier columns, an unusual amount of sitting legislators chose not to run for reelection – some to focus on family and personal matters, some to seek higher or different elected offices, some to pursue their careers, and some just felt like they had served their time and now was the time to retire.

As the Senate and House separately celebrated the contributions and antics of many of the legislators, I was reminded that it takes a lot to serve in the general assembly. Established as a part time legislature that meets for three and a half months in a short session and five and a half months in a long session, many are challenged to juggle small children, changing lifestyles, and more importantly fulltime employment. The compensation for serving as a legislator varies depending on your role and responsibilities but its less than what you would compensate the next door neighbor teen to baby sit your children. Luckily, in 2022 the legislature raised the annual salary compensation by 78% to $40,000 for the average legislator. Additionally, they depoliticized the question of future raises, with automatic raises pegged to the Employment Cost Index to keep it in the ball park with other professions.

Many thought this would incentivize more people to seek a spot in the legislature but indeed it wasn’t that successful as there were still 42 races that were uncontested in the 2022 election. Many believe that the old adage – you can’t pay me enough to do that job – was a factor in folks deciding if they wanted to turn in their community advocate role, or local elected seat for a chance to work at the state level. It’s heartwarming to know that there still are several hundred CT residents who have a passion to serve their towns and communities for a two year commitment……. KEEP READING.

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