Alabama’s 140 state lawmakers will receive a 3.61% raise next year, bringing their annual pay to $49,861, according to the Alabama Personnel Department
Lawmakers’ pay has increased by $7,012 since 2015 when a constitutional amendment went into effect, tying their salaries each year to Alabama’s median household income.
The voter-approved amendment was initially a pay cut for many lawmakers, putting their salaries at $42,849 in 2015. Since then, they’ve had four raises and one slight pay decrease.
Lawmakers will be earning more starting Jan. 1 than they were under a 2007 61% raise approved by the then-Democrat majority. It put pay at $49,500.
Backlash over that raise, which also allowed for annual increases in pay, helped the GOP take over the Legislature in 2010, some Republicans have said. Republicans who pushed the constitutional amendment in 2012 said it would take politics out of their pay and base it on the performance of the state’s economy.
The amendment allows most lawmakers to be reimbursed more for travel to and from Montgomery. In-state travel for the Legislature, including employees, went from $40,152 in fiscal 2014 to just more than $1 million in fiscal 2019, according to spending records available at open.alabama.gov.
Alabama’s lawmakers are considered a “hybrid” legislature – not full-time, but more than part-time. They do most of their legislating during a regular session once a year, meeting usually three days a week for 15 weeks. Occasionally, they’ll meet in a shorter, governor-called special session. There was one special session in 2016, two in 2015, and one this year, tucked into the regular session.
Lawmakers don’t earn more during sessions, but they are compensated for travel costs. When not in Montgomery, they may be working on legislation or working in their districts.