Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Sock It To SOCC
It's called the State Officers Compensation Commission and it's a grand experiment that has failed. Miserably. The panel of seven "private" citizens was a creature of the legislature. For years lawmakers faced a Hobson's choice: On one hand they wanted a pay raise but on the other, they had to cast a vote to get it. And if they voted "yes", they faced the potential wrath of the voter during the next election. Political survival in this town being what it is spawned a scheme, and it is exactly that, to give the illusion that this seven-member group would independently make the pay decision and if there was a boost in pay, lawmakers could blame the commission. This concept was sold to the voters as a way to "reform" the way salaries are set. Backers never explained the "real0 reason lurking beneath the "reform" which was to protect their backside. The electorate took the bait, hook, line and sinker and voted for the scheme, which unknowingly provided cover for the 148 lawmakers. Since then the "private" citizen panel has been unduly influenced by, what else, former legislators who were appointed to the commission. They brought with them a sympathetic ear to the pay plight of their former colleagues. The governor, who appoints the panel, did make sure there were private citizens, just for looks, but often times even they had indirect liaisons with the legislature and they often turned to the lawmakers on the panel for guidance. Pretty neat, hey? For the most part the public, as it often does, never paid much attention to SOCC until the group came up with a whopping 38% pay raise in 2000. Some how that got everyoneE2s attention and when lawmakers had a chance to reject the recommendation, they did not while blaming SOCC for making the decision in the first place. The guy who engineered the raise was former House Speaker Lew Dodak who is also a lobbyist. Need we say more other than; it is time to Sock it to SOCC. Agree?