Legislative pay, benefit hike bill still alive

Length of legislative session also on the table

by the Campaign for Vermont

S.39, the legislative pay and benefits bill passed by the Legislature and vetoed by Gov. Phil Scott, is now in the Senate Government Operations Committee.

The bill could be subject to a veto override vote when the Legislature returns in January. Also, the Legislature is scheduled to reconvene in October to consider the impeachment of two elected county officials.

S.39 was introduced by Senators Ruth Hardy and Alison Clarkson in January. As introduced, the bill would make legislators eligible for the State employees’ health benefit plan at no cost, allow them to participate in any flexible spending account program offered to State employees for health care expenses or dependent care expenses, or both, and provide compensation during adjournment (something not currently offered). The bill also significantly increased compensation levels. 

Summary (as passed)

  • Legislators will have access to the state employee health care plan with similar employee contributions as executive branch employees.
  • Legislators would become eligible for any employee assistance program offered to State employees, and any flexible spending account program offered to State employees for health care or dependent care expenses, or both, members of the General Assembly are considered employees.
  • In 2025, legislators would be eligible for $1,000 per week in compensation plus a market adjustment.
  • In 2026, legislative compensation increases to $1,100 per week, plus a market adjustment.
  • In 2027, legislative compensation increases to $1,210 per week, plus a market adjustment.
  • For the 2025 – 2026 biennium, the Speaker of the House and the President Pro Tempore of the Senate are entitled to:
    • Weekly salaries of $1,230 and increasing to $1,530 in 2026, plus a market adjustment.
    • Additional annual salaries of $19,000 and increasing to $23,500 in 2026, plus a market adjustment.
    • In 2027, this increases further to 28,300 in base salary plus an additional $1,830 per week.
  • When the legislature is not in session, legislators will now be eligible to collect 1/5 of their weekly compensation.
  • Legislators will now receive a daily allowance for food and lodging based on the federal Office of Government-wide Policy reimbursement rates. However, members can elect to rever to the cost of actual meals and lodging if they so choose.
  • A Legislative Service Working Group is created to review “issues related to serving as a member of the Vermont General Assembly.” The Working Group will be composed of three current members of the House of Representatives and three current members of the Senate. The Group will weigh in on issues involving:
    • Legislative compensation and benefits, staffing, administrative support.
    • The length of the legislative session.
    • The current compensation and benefits offered to members of the General Assembly.
    • The impact of making members eligible for the State employees’ health plan.
THE GOOD: Might encourage working-class Vermonters to run for legislative office.Could lead to greater diversity in the legislature.THE BAD: Increased cost to state government and taxpayers.Creates a dis-incentive for legislators to leave office.Lack of accountability as legislators can choose to increase their compensation with little to no oversight.Little evidence presented justifying the increase.


While the goals of this legislation are laudable, encouraging more representative cross-section of Vermonters to run for office, the lack of oversight and the inherent conflict of interest presented by legislators voting on an expansive benefit package and pay increase undermines the public’s confidence in state government.

While we would like to see more middle-class Vermonters in our legislature (it is arguably not very representative today), the effort to rush this through at the end of the session does not sit well with us; neither does the lack of testimony or evidence presented around why these compensation levels were necessary.

Legislative pay increases should be handed to a third-party that dis-interested and should also be pegged to statewide median wage, instead of state employees and executive officers. As our research has shown, these positions are better compensated than the average worker. By tying legislative compensation to median wages it creates a financial incentive to grow the economy and the incomes of Vermont’s middle class.

Finally, we would also prefer to see term limits imposed on legislators in an effort to encourage tours of public service instead of legislative careers. We believe this will lead to new ideas and fresh perspectives in addition to providing the kind of diversity that we seek in our legislative leaders. 

Current Status:

Vetoed by Governor Scott. The bill was referred back to the Senate Government Operations Committee, pending an override vote.

Categories: Commentary

9 replies »

  1. If there is any legislation more indicative of our legislator’s misappropriation and mismanagement of the public trust, I haven’t seen it. One can argue that previous legislation, passed on behalf of a perceived attempt to improve the human condition, is naïvely innocent… despite individual hubris and near total failure to achieve advertised goals. As the saying goes: the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

    But the self-aggrandizement inherent in S.39 is beyond the pale. Simply put, this legislation is the face of evil.

    • It is, Mr. Eshelman the proof positive- that we are now ruled as subjects here in the people’s republic of vermont. Self aggrandizement and hubris are the natural condition of the elitist and this batch of elitists have it in spades.
      Vermont voters, with a combination of apathy, low interest and low information have allowed Vermont to be transformed by a cabal of immigrants from other states seeking to create the nirvana the could not- wherever they came from. We have lost the citizen legislature that served Vermont well for over two centuries, to allow a socialist totalitarian state to emerge in just the last 2 decades.
      And for conservative thinkers- as well as 99% of other Vermont residents, Vermont is now lost-it will take several generations to correct the liberal/elitist mindset that seems to have permanently occupied the state house and the minds of politicians therein.
      This bill may or may not be over-ridden, but you can bank on the guarantee that these quasi-marxists will succeed in fattening their wallets at the expense of working Vermont residents- sooner than later- for the legislature is comprised by a super-majority of bourgeoisie, unconcerned with anything other than their personal ideology, wealth and stature in their circle.

  2. In my opinion we taxpayers are not getting our money’s worth as in is, and this disingenuous grifters want more ? In a pig’s eye ! How about I give them a little investment hint. Buy stock in tar and feathers !

  3. This is absurd. They are turning our representative legislative body into employees
    of the state. Career politicians with state employee benefits. New Hampshire who has about 1.4million people only pay the legislative body about $200 a year!! And they meet for 45 legislative days (our body meets for 90?). What makes our legislators think they are so important? I don’t see presidential candidates flocking to Vermont as a key state they need a presence in. We should limit this crazy clown show to the 90 days it should be and stop paying at the 90 days. Much of what appears to occur is justification of existence.
    Vermont is the petrie dish for all things possible to people like Hardy and others. If you can get it done in Vermont then maybe other states will try it. Who do these representatives really work for?

    • Re: “We should limit this crazy clown show…”

      Shoulda, woulda, coulda….

  4. As Deb said “They are turning our representative legislative body into employees
    of the state. Career politicians with state employee benefits.” This legislation and the fact is even still alive is disgusting and appalling. Isn’t the State of Vermont already the largest employer in the state??? Its also unbelievable that they are giving themselves free state health care. THAT is infuriating. I worked for a municipality, and while we had great healthcare, I HAD TO PAY to be enrolled and covered. WHAT makes them think they are so special?? They already passed the “Unaffordable heating act” that will hit our wallets any time now, oh and btw, many representatives said they had more communication against that bill than any other bill, almost ever, yet they passed it anyway. They clearly aren’t working for the people of Vermont.
    Childcare assistance for people making up to 170k. (REALLY??? THEY need help????) Those people make exponentially more than I do per year and now MY tax dollars are being used to help them?? And the “REPRESENTATIVES” (I capitalize that so they are reminded that THEY work for US–oh and not the lobbyists and groups that are tossing them some green backs) think they need a raise and a bunch of freebees? How about no. WHY is it that the tiny state of Vermont can’t finish its business in 30-90 days and meet every other year? There are at least 4 states, ALL larger than Vermont that meet every other year and geez, their states seem to be running just fine. Here’s my recommendation, drop S39, and change and shorten the legislative session. The longer these people are under the dome worse the ideas that they come up with. Meet every other year for 45 days. There. I fixed it for you.

    • Keep in mind too, Vermont is the only State in the Union without a balanced budget requirement.

      I’m afraid ‘the fix’ is going to be more difficult than most can imagine.

      ‘When misguided public opinion honors what is despicable and despises what is honorable, punishes virtue and rewards vice, encourages what is harmful and discourages what is useful, applauds falsehood and smothers truth under indifference or insult, a nation turns its back on progress and can be restored only by the terrible lessons of catastrophe.’

      Claude-Frédéric Bastiat
      The parable of the broken window

      • There was a time when Vermont was made up of pragmatic, common sense, middle of the road types that kept the vehicle between the ditches. Now, we have belligerent occupiers driving us through the ditch, over the culvert, and pitched headlong into a river of deceit. The only way out of this evil gamemanship is watch it implode upon itself, communities go sideways, and the demons will run into hiding or straight to military prison. Those with brains who sat out the circus of calamity (and there are not many unless they wake up) will take over.