- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 1, 2016

BOISE, Idaho (AP) - A special citizen panel has approved increasing Idaho’s basic legislative salaries over the next two years.

The Citizens Committee on Legislative Compensation agreed on Wednesday to bump state lawmaker pay by 2 percent each year until 2018. This will cause the annual pay for state lawmakers to jump from roughly $16,680 to around $17,350.

“I think that’s a great deal,” said committee member and former state Sen. John Goedde.

The committee voted 3-2 with no discussion. The recommendation will go into effect unless the Idaho Legislature rejects it. Lawmakers last received a pay raise in 2014 of 1.5 percent per year.

Meanwhile, the committee unanimously approved keeping daily session expenses the same.

Lawmakers living within 50 miles of the Capitol will continue to receive $49 a day when the Idaho Legislature is in session, while those living farther away will stay at $129 a day.

The committee also chose not to amend the $2,250 constituent service allowance. That means an Idaho lawmaker who lives outside of Boise could be compensated more than $30,100 for an average legislative session by 2018.

Wednesday’s meeting changed very little, but members held a lengthy discussion on legislative pensions after hearing concerns from two citizens.

Jim Haddock, and his brother Tim, urged the committee to eliminate the pension perk that lets longtime lawmakers “spike” their benefits by taking a higher-paid state appointment for 42 months at the end of their careers.

Lawmakers approved this special benefit for themselves during the 1990 session, which has failed to be overturned despite growing criticism.

Committee members held off from taking action, citing that it was unclear if they were constitutionally allowed to meddle with the topic, but agreed to send a letter to legislative leadership urging them to revisit and review the issue.

The panel was created by a 1976 constitutional amendment to make setting legislative pay less a political football and to provide a nonpartisan assessment of the compensation required to maintain a quality citizen Legislature. Members are appointed by the governor and the Idaho Supreme Court and submit recommendations every two years.

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