North Carolina lawmaker seeks pay raises for legislators

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As the statewide debate over pay raises heats up, one lawmaker is making the argument that he and his colleagues deserve a salary increase, too.

Rep. Robert Brawley, R-Iredell, filed the bill Wednesday.

It would boost legislators' pay from $13,951 annually to $36,000 annually.

The bill would also allow them keep their $559 monthly expense allowance.

"If it wasn't for my other income, I couldn't be down here. So, if that's the case, if we keep the legislative pay down, you only get the people who can afford to be down here without the legislative pay anyway, and the question I have to ask is, do you think rich people can represent the working people real well? If that's what you want, that's what you're going to get," said Rep. Brawley.

The move comes as lawmakers also consider Governor Pat McCrory's proposal that would give teachers a 2-percent pay raise and increase the annual base pay of new teachers to $35,000 over the next two years.

"Even if you say we're going to increase your pay by 10 bucks, it would probably not be the right way to go," said Mitch Kokai with the John Locke Foundation.

Critics also question the political motive behind the bill. Brawley recently lost in his party's primary. He will not be back in 2015 to represent House District 95.

"Proverbially, it's kind of like peeing in the wind," said Democratic consultant, Perry Woods.

Woods used to recruit legislative candidates. While he agrees the bill is unlikely to gain traction with lawmakers, he says a raise is necessary.

"They should absolutely consider looking at raising legislative pay so that more average people would be able to serve," said Woods.

"I can't imagine that any of the legislators looking at where things stand in North Carolina today are going to spend much time looking at this proposal," said Kokai.

Brawley also filed a bill that would let each county increase property taxes by 1 cent for teacher compensation.

Both bills now head to a House committee.

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