Sen. Ken Corn seeks to cut pay of statewide elected officials
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Published: 05-Apr-2010

By Patrick B. McGuigan

Published: 05-Apr-2010

State Sen. Ken Corn, a Poteau Democrat, wants to reduce the pay of statewide elected officials.  His amendment was attached, in the full Senate, to an underlying bill dealing with pay for state officials.

The amended proposal, with Corn’s pay cut language incorporated, has yet to receive a hearing after having been referred to the House Appropriations Committee. To stay alive for this session, the bill must be approved before the deadline for reporting Senate bills and joint resolutions from House committees -- this Thursday, April 8.

The text of the Corn amendment to Senate Bill 2087 (the original measure is from Republican Sen. Anthony Sykes of Moore), follows:

 “If the State Board of Equalization determines that a revenue failure has occurred with respect to the General Revenue Fund of the State Treasury for a fiscal year, the salaries of the [statewide elected] officers specified in subsection A of this section shall be reduced for the remainder of the fiscal year in a percentage amount commensurate with the percentage of the projected revenue failure.

The original version of the bill would have allowed for a salary freeze in 2011. The amended version allows for a salary decrease in the event of a revenue failure.

Corn's amendment would allow the Legislature to pass the pay reduction. In a press release last month, Sen. Corn maintained that statewide elected officials should bear part of the burden for the state's struggling economy.

In the statement sent to CapitolBeatOK, Corn said he was pleased at Senate passage of the amendment to “cut the salaries of statewide elected officials in tough economic times. I believe elected officials should not be treated as a special class. If our state employees are being furloughed and taking reductions in pay, then elected officials should do that as well.”

The statutory amendment shifted the focus somewhat for Sykes' proposed law setting annual salaries for statewide elected officials taking effect, if passed, in January 2011. State Rep. Paul Wesselhoft is House sponsor of the Sykes bill.

Sen. Corn also wants to reduce the salaries of state legislators, and says he is searching for an appropriate vehicle introduce a constitutional amendment to allow such cuts in legislative pay. (Corn’s ballot proposal was initially filed as Senate Joint Resolution 2, but it was not heard in the Senate Appropriations Committee.)

As Corn noted, “State legislative pay can only be changed by constitutional amendment.” He wants “to let the people vote on whether legislative salaries should be reduced in the event of revenue failure.”

At the time his amendment made it through the Senate, Corn commented,  “I’m going to continue fighting for this – if we don’t adopt this language in a Senate bill, I’ll be looking for other vehicles coming from the House.” This week will spell success or failure for Corn's effort, as House committees must wrap up their work on Senate proposals by week's end.

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