MADISON — State legislators in Wisconsin are among the highest paid in the country, according to an analysis by The Badger Project.
That’s one of a few eyebrow-raising facts about the Wisconsin Legislature when compared with legislatures from other states.
Wisconsin state senators and representatives make a base salary of $53,000 per year, ninth highest among the 50 state legislatures.
And Wisconsin is one of the smallest states to have a full-time legislature. At about 5.8 million residents, Wisconsin ranks 20th in population and yet finds itself in the same position as much larger states — including California, New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio and Massachusetts — when it comes to employing full-time lawmakers.
Being a well-paid, full-time legislator in a state may be good work if you can get it. But it also can be a dubious distinction, especially when compared to other legislatures.
I’ll point you to a column that I wrote for the Washington County Daily News in February of last year about this very subject. The nut of it is, when you have politicians sitting around full time, they naturally feel compelled to do something to remain relevant. That leads to more laws and bigger government being created by people who are further and further from the people they serve.