News: CJ Exclusives

NCGA May Consider First Compensation Changes in Two Decades

Annual overall compensation averaged more than $43,000

After a brief presentation comparing North Carolina lawmakers’ pay to other states, on Monday a leader of a legislative oversight committee said he would form a “working group” to make recommendations for lawmakers’ future compensation.

“A working group will look at the information that we’ve received from NCSL [the National Conference of State Legislatures], the comparative information,” said Sen. Fletcher Hartsell, R-Cabarrus, who co-chairs the Joint Legislative Program Evaluation Oversight Committee.

Hartsell, a longtime senator who is not seeking re-election this year, made the comments following the committee’s Monday afternoon meeting. He said the working group could make a recommendation during this year’s short session. “I don’t know whether that will happen or not,” Hartsell said. “It may likely happen.”

“Given that there have been no changes in 20-plus years, we’re trying to get some kind of consensus in a recommendation to address that issue,” Hartsell continued.

John Turcotte, the director of the General Assembly’s Program Evaluation Division, told the committee that overall compensation averaged $43,227 per legislature during 2014.

“It includes all categories of expenses and compensation,” Turcotte said after the meeting. “It’s the salary, it’s the interim expense allowance, [and] it’s the daily allowance for incidentals and mileage all collapsed together.”

Rank-and-file legislators are paid an annual salary of $13,951. In addition they get $559 a month for office expenses, round-trip mileage once a week during session from their homes to Raleigh, and $104 a day for meals and lodging while in session. Some leadership positions, such as House speaker, Senate president pro tem, and the majority and minority leaders in both chambers, get additional pay.