You’ve heard the old line, “Be careful what you ask for, you just might get it!” On Monday June 9th I appeared before our Town Council and spoke against public financing of elections. In my statement, I asked our elected leaders to consider the state of the economy and the tax increases at virtually every level. I ended by asking them to show citizens where their priorities are.
My bad! They did show it in a pretty dramatic way. They first passed an ordinance granting council members who serve two terms to continue their health insurance with tax dollars paying 75% of the cost. This is the same as what a 15-year full-time employee receives. They did approve public financing of elections, but we have no clue about how much it will cost. And when they approved the budget, it granted council members a 3% cost of living increase too.
I don’t begrudge them their pay and benefits; they work hard for us, but even our Congress passed the 27th Amendment to the Constitution in 1992 to provide that “No law, varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives, shall take effect, until an election of Representatives shall have intervened.”
Would you believe that this was first submitted in 1789? Maybe one day we will also catch up, because it just appears wrong to increase your own compensation without having an election before it takes effect. The test of the ballot box is one of our great traditions; maybe we should use it in cases like this!