Rep. Rick West Again Pursues Legislative Pay Resolution
OKLAHOMA CITY – Rep. Rick West, R-Heavener, this year will again pursue legislation that would send to a vote of the people a question regarding future legislative pay changes.
House Joint Resolution 1001 would require a statewide vote to determine whether or not legislative pay increases or decreases should face a vote of the people each time they are recommended or if the matter should continue to be decided by the Board on Legislative Compensation. If approved, the measure would amend the state Constitution.
The resolution was introduced for the 2023 legislative session but did not advance from the House Rules Committee.
"I told my constituents when I ran for office that I would run this bill," West said. "This places the decision of legislative pay in the hands of the people of the state of Oklahoma, and not with a board appointed by the beneficiaries of the board's decisions."
West said the measure keeps in place the Board of Legislative Compensation to make recommendations and give their rationale, but the ultimate decision on legislative pay should be made by the people represented by each lawmaker.
West said the resolution is a pledge he made to constituents when he was re-elected to his House seat in 2020. A 35% increase in legislative pay was approved by the Board on Legislative Compensation for those serving starting in 2019. At the time, West was not in office. But, he said he pledged to voters that upon taking his seat in 2020 he would not take the pay increase but would instead donate it to charities in his House district.
He said he opposed the way the increase was handled by a board that has appointees by the governor and House and Senate leadership. The chairman of the Oklahoma Tax Commission and the executive director of the Office of Management and Enterprise Services serve as ex officio nonvoting members of the board.
The board last year voted to increase by 5% stipends paid to legislative leaders.
Each of the past four years, West has proposed similar legislation, but it has not advanced. West said he'll continue proposing the legislation to keep his promise to his constituents.