COLUMBUS - The holiday season of gift-giving arrived early yesterday when Governor Taft signed a bill into law that gives state legislators their first pay raise since 1992.
The annual salaries of all 99 House members and half of the 33-member Senate will increase next year from $42,277 to $51,674 - a 22 per cent jump.
In addition, legislators will receive a 3 per cent increase or the rate of inflation - whichever is less - annually through 2008.
State senators on the ballot in 2002 will have to wait until 2003 for the raise - because the Ohio Constitution bars legislators from increasing their pay in mid-term.
Legislators approved the pay raise after the Nov. 7 election during a lame-duck session, considered the only viable time politically that lawmakers could approve a raise for themselves. To the surprise of some, no organized opposition emerged.
The pay-raise package also includes judges, most statewide officeholders, and elected county and township officials, most of whom will receive raises of 3 per cent.
County commissioners elected this year will receive a 3 per cent increase in 2001, and the new law reduces the number of classifications of counties based on population from 14 to 8.
That will trigger an increase in the base salary for Lucas County commissioners from $63,744 to $74,269 - a 16.5 per cent raise. Like other in-term commissioners around the state, Lucas County commissioner Sandy Isenberg won't get her salary increase until after the 2002 election, if she wins re-eletion.
Sponsored by state Rep. Jim Hoops (R., Napoleon), the bill defers base pay raises for the governor and lieutenant governor until 2007.
The pay-raise bill passed the Senate 23-8, and the House by a 68-15 margin.
The governor signed another bill, clarifying state law to ensure the state auditor can investigate public agencies and any person who receives taxpayer dollars.