September 9, 2015 Atlanta - Exterior of The Governor's Mansion on Wednesday, September 9, 2015.HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM
Photo: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC/hshin@ajc.com
Photo: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC/hshin@ajc.com

House backs raise for next governor, but asks: Where’s ours? 

The Georgia House on Wednesday readily agreed to give the next governor a hefty pay raise, but several lawmakers wondered why the chief executive is the one beneficiary of such largess. 

House Bill 202 passed the House 141-22, with all but one of “No” votes coming from Republicans. The bill will increase the state’s chief executive’s pay from $139,000 to $175,000. It does not affect Gov. Nathan Deal, who is term-limited from running again. 

“We are paying our governor, who oversees hundreds of programs and agencies and employees, he works 24/7, (including) overseas and manages emergencies all across this state and we’re paying him less than a CEO of a small corporation would receive,” Ways and Means Chairman Jay Powell, R-Camilla, the bill’s sponsor, said. 

Several Democrats, however, wondered why the bill doesn’t also include a little something for lawmakers. 

“I have no problem with raising the governor’s salary,” Rep. Winfred Dukes, D-Albany, said. “But have you had any consideration of raising our salary?”

Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, responded: “The box is open,” meaning Dukes is welcome to introduce a bill doing just that. 

Powell, however, noted that the bill also reconstitutes a dormant commission that will study the salary of all constitutional officers and members of the General Assembly and make recommendations back to lawmakers. The House, Senate and governor will appoint the members. 

Still, Rep. Earnest “Coach” Williams, D-Avondale Estates, was not fully satisfied. 

“Is it not true that there is a Governor’s Mansion and it’s occupied by him for free?” Williams asked Powell, who acknowledged Williams was correct. 

“Where’s the box?” Williams said. 

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