Alaska editorial: Staff of both parties deserve equal pay

Posted: Tuesday, May 10, 2005

This editorial appeared in Sunday's Voice of the (Anchorage) Times:

Count us among those who believe there are far too many legislative staff members working in Juneau, but also count us among those who believe in the notion of equal pay for equal work.

It turns out staff working for legislators in the Democratic minority receive substantially less pay than their counterparts in the Republican majority. It is part of a "the-winner-gets-the-spoils" system that has existed for as long as anybody can remember in Juneau. If Democrats were in control of the Legislature, their staff would be making more than those on the other side of the aisle.

A recent move by Rep. Les Gara, D-Anchorage, to fix that inequity by equalizing staff pay or linking it to merit fizzled.

We find it difficult to agree with Mr. Gara on anything, even the time of day in most cases, but in this instance he is correct. Equal work, in all fairness, should receive equal pay and the system should be based on merit.

It is unlikely anybody will go for our first choice, which would be to reduce GOP staff pay to the amount paid Democratic staff, so the next best alternative to reach parity would be to pay Democratic staff at GOP levels.

It may be tough for Republicans to yield to the opposition on this issue because of tradition and because Democrats have shorted their staff in the past, but equalizing the salary structure may pay off for their workers at some point in the future.

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