Apparently the Texas “Ethics” Commission thinks taxpayers are feeling generous, because they voted to give legislators a 15 percent pay raise heading into the spring legislative session.

Texans didn’t vote to make the Texas “Ethics” Commission the regulators and arbiter of citizens’ First Amendment Rights… though that is certainly how the agency has positioned itself.

No, the agency was established by voters to do two things: recommend salary increases for lawmakers, and set the “per diem” payment legislators receive every day during the legislative session… whether they are in Austin or not.

While the TEC has never recommended increasing the salary (still set at $600 per month) because that would require a vote of the people, they regularly bump up the per diem payments legislators get to pocket.

On Friday, commissioners voted to increase that pay by 15 percent. In other words, without taxpayers ever getting a say, lawmakers are being handed a 15 percent pay raise. I guess you were feeling generous, eh?

It’s actually a lot more than that. As Cary Cheshire noted in an article leading up the TEC vote, the per diem represents not only cash to the legislators’ pockets, but also increases how much lobbyists can spend every day on legislators without having to report it.

Legislators can be wined and dined every single meal in Austin, but as long as the lobbyist can massage the books you will never know who is paying for lawmakers’ champagne wishes and caviar dreams.

And thanks to the unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats at the Texas “Ethics” Commission, legislators get to pocket an extra 15 percent for the next two years while getting better champagne and more caviar.

And none of this touches the outrageous pension legislators give themselves. No, it’s not a pension tied to their part-time pay of $600… It’s tied instead to the full-time salary of a district judge.

These guys are generous to themselves with other people’s money.

Maybe you should ask your legislators what they plan to do with the extra cash coming out of your pocket.

Michael Quinn Sullivan

Michael Quinn Sullivan is the publisher of Texas Scorecard. He is a native Texan, a graduate of Texas A&M, and an Eagle Scout. Previously, he has worked as a newspaper reporter, magazine contributor, Capitol Hill staffer, and think tank vice president. Michael and his wife have three adult children, a son-in-law, and a dog. Michael is the author of three books, including "Reflections on Life and Liberty."


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