Some People Outraged About State Lawmakers Pay Raise - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Some People Outraged About State Lawmakers Pay Raise

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. - In the midst of massive budget cuts in Tennessee and layoffs, state lawmakers are getting a pay raise. The pay hike has some people outraged.

So far this year, lawmakers have cut $753 million from the budget and cut 1,400 state jobs. Some like Ben Cunningham with the Tennessee Tax Revolt are wondering why state lawmakers are getting an 8 percent pay raise.

"I think this is probably the toughest budget year we've ever had," said Cunningham. "An 8 percent increase was not justified, nobody would think it's justified."

Every time lawmakers come to work at the Capitol they get a daily per diem to pay for food and lodging. The number has jumped from $171 to $185 dollars a day, and that's in addition to their annual $19,000 dollar base salary.

"It's going to be a very difficult year, and they are going to have to look at every dollar and certainly the dollars they spend on themselves," said Cunningham.

State lawmakers had nothing to do with their pay raise. The federal government actually sets per diem reimbursement rates.

Ben Cunningham said that's no excuse, and state lawmakers should refuse the extra cash.

"They can just say ‘oh those were not our decisions we just, somebody else made those decisions.' Well but you are supposed to make those decisions. You are supposed to make the decisions about the money that we send up there, that's why we hired you," said Cunningham.

Cunningham is calling for lawmakers to change their pay raise system when they go back into session in January.

NewsChannel 5 talked with several state lawmakers Thursday who said they were unaware they were getting the raise in the first place. They admit it does look bad, and they will look into changing things when they do go back into session.

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