An advisory commission that would review the compensation of all elected officials must first agree on a salary that’s based on an existing consumer price index. Otherwise the annual wages of the incoming members of the 21st Legislature would revert back to $8,000 per annum.
Lawmaker’ current salary is at $39,300 per annum.
Public Law 19-83 would have boosted that to $70,000 per annum. The Supreme Court, however, ruled that the salary increase in P.L. 19-83 is unconstitutional, including the previous pay hikes enacted by public laws 4-32 (1985) and 7-8 (1990).
In a status conference yesterday, the Superior Court decided that the Supreme Court decision won’t be retroactive and that sitting lawmakers should receive their regular salaries of $39,300 per annum until their term ends when the House and Senate adjourns.
To provide for an increased pay for lawmakers, the 20th Legislature must act on this issue before the start of the 21st Legislature in January.
House members, like Rep. Ed. Propst (Ind-Saipan), confirmed with Saipan Tribune yesterday that they received their regular salaries. Propst added that it is up to the Superior Court to determine if public laws 19-83, 7-8, and 4-32 are unconstitutional.
In last month’s ruling, the Supreme Court instructed the Superior Court to resume proceedings to determine if the salary increases—starting from P.L. 4-32—should be deemed void.
House Speaker Rafael S. Demapan (R-Saipan) said that what the Superior Court did was to retain lawmakers’ regular salary of $39,300 and now the next step is to wait for the Superior Court’s final ruling.
Rep. Angel A. Demapan (R-Saipan) said in an earlier interview that the highest salary that legislators could get is $32,000, based on the CPI if the wage advisory commission reconvenes following the same process as stated in the law in determining salary increases.
The Legislature would establish the advisory commission, which will then make recommendations on the compensation of all Commonwealth officers in the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the government. The CPI is developed to determine the salary increases needed to maintain a person’s standard of living.
If the annual salaries of legislators return to $8,000, as it was more than 30 years ago, they would be getting a gross of just $666.66 per month.