Senate debates defund the police (copy)

Louisiana Senate in session

Staffers will see 8% more in their pay envelope, probably as early as next week, after the Senate Executive Committee approved a pay bump on Friday.

“We have tremendous employees here,” said state Sen. Fred Mills, R-Parks, as the panel that oversees the upper chamber’s administration came out of a closed-door session.

“All of our employees are really valuable to us. We feel that each employee should be rewarded and we’re going to give the president some discretion on this, somewhat, but we are going to give an 8% pay raise to our staff members. It is long overdue. It’s well deserved,” Mills said, adding that this will be the pay raise in nearly three years.

When state workers received a pay raise last year, Senate staffers were not included. 

The state Senate has 96 full-time staffers who work for the full Senate, drafting bills, handling documents, researching law and issues. They're lawyers, fiscal analysts, accountants and other professionals who are paid, on average, about $88,000 per year. The Senate has a total annual budget of $21.7 million.

Senate President Page Cortez, R-Lafayette, told the Associated Press the number of Senate staffers have decreased from 111 in 2019. “We've asked less people to do more work,” he said, adding that the pay raises will cost taxpayers about $625,000 more per year.

The scoop on state politics in your inbox

Get the Louisiana politics insider details once a week from us. Sign up today.

During the Senate Executive Committee hearing, Cortez said the Senate also is applying the pay raise to the security personnel and sergeant at arms who work part-time and are paid on a per diem basis. Security personnel would be paid about $12 per day more and sergeant at arms, who work during the session, would receive $10 per day more. Full-timers on security and sergeant at arms staffs would get the 8% bump, Cortez said.

Mills asked Cortez, who as president can enact the pay raise with the stroke his pen, to make the pay raises effective as quickly as possible. The paperwork should be ready at the start of next week.

Mills said that senators also discussed behind closed doors the need for further analysis on how and when staffers should retire as part of an effort to reorganize Senate staff. And the Senate is looking for “commonality” with the House on pay schedules, staff organization and workplace issues in order that the two chambers operate similarly.

The Senate will soon contract with consultants to analyze the workplace and procedures.

“We're working to make sure we’re all on the same page as far as salaries and as far as kind of where the path of success can be,” Mills said.

Email Mark Ballard at mballard@theadvocate.com.