Two weeks ago, members of the D.C. City Council prepared “emergency” legislation which if passed would increase their salary by 42%. The raise would take effect prior to the new Council taking office in January 2007, so that it could apply to that Council — who are prohibited by law from raising their own salaries.
The amazing thing is not that the Council pleaded an “emergency” or proposed such a dramatic increase in their salaries. It’s that they already make $92,000 a year for a “part-time” position — for a city half the size of Fairfax County.
D.C. Council members defended their money grab by describing their role as akin to state officials (ignoring the fact that state legislators, who have plenary power in our Federalist system, make a fraction of those sums). They say that their job requires them to be full-time.
There is nothing more dangerous than a full-time politician. Given too much time and opportunity, full-time legislators will pass useless and burdensome legislation in order to justify their existence. Meanwhile, they miss the crucial experience that ordinary citizens have every day — the experience of surviving in a market economy.
Fortunately, under the Virginia Constitution, the full-time position is reserved for the Governor and Attorney General, each of whom must directly manage thousands of state employees. That’s a good thing. And that’s the way it should stay.