Senate OKs big legislative pay, benefit hike

By Guy Page

The Vermont Senate yesterday gave initial approval to a hefty pay and benefits increase for the Vermont Legislature. S.39 provides weekly salaries for all House and Senate members  during the 18-20 week Legislative Session:

  • for 2025, $1,000 
  • for 2026, $1,100
  • for 2027, $1,210.

The Senate, however, rejected a proposed 13 week legislative session amendment offered by Sen. Russ Ingalls (R-Essex). Gov. Phil Scott has said he would support S.39 if it limited the Legislature to three months.

The Senate backed S.39 in a roll call vote. Yes votes: Baruth, Bray, Brock, Clarkson, Cummings, Gulick, Hardy, Harrison, Hashim, Lyons, MacDonald, McCormack, Norris, Perchlik, Vyhovsky, Watson, Westman, White, Wrenner.

No votes: Campion, *Chittenden, Collamore, Ingalls, Kitchel, Mazza, Sears, Starr, Weeks, Williams. Absent: Ram Hinsdale.

Chittenden County Democrat Tom Chittenden said he objects to two features of S.39: “adjournment pay” and the $69 per diem meal allowance.

“First, I don’t support the adjournment compensation in Section 5.  When we are adjourned, we are adjourned.  I see any time I choose to put in to this role during adjournment as service and not as compensable time,” Chittenden – a descendent of Vermont’s first Gov. Thomas Chittenden – said. 

“Secondly, I understood from the floor speech that the new pay rate for the session was based on the average Vermont salary but the bill continues to include daily meal stipends for legislators.  The average Vermonter does not get $69 dollars a day for meals so with the meal stipend, this would be more than the average Vermonter’s salary.”

As Chittenden notes, S.39’s combined pay/benefits package includes more than just a base pay increase. It also features:

Special Session per diem – pay a per diem (daily) rate equal to one-fifth of the weekly pay.

Health insurance benefits – legislators would be eligible for the same health care benefits now enjoyed by State of Vermont executive branch employees. 

Adjournment Pay – when out-of-session, lawmakers would receive weekly pay one-fifth of the in-session pay ($242/week). 

Mileage reimbursement – travel from home to the Capitol at the federal mileage reimbursement rate (currently 65.5 cents). 

Professional development out-of-state – Lawmakers would receive a per-diem (pro-rated from weekly salary) for attending out-of-state professional development and other duties. 

Meals reimbursement or allowance – Lawmakers would elect either actual meals reimbursement or the federally-established government meals allowance for Montpelier, Vermont – which is currently $69/day. 

Lodging reimbursement or allowance – Lawmakers would elect either actual lodging reimbursement or the federally-established government lodging allowance for Montpelier, Vermont – which is currently $127/day. 

Childcare/eldercare – Each lawmaker with $75K or less of household income will receive up to $1600/year for necessary childcare or eldercare. 

Parking – A member who attests that physical limitations make it difficult or impractical  to walk from lodging to the State House may receive reimbursement for actual costs incurred for overnight parking. 

Orientation pay for members-elect – Each newly-elected non-incumbent will be paid a per diem based on lawmakers’ weekly pay for attending new member orientation, usually held in December. 

Death pay – The estate of a deceased member will receive the entire pay of the two-week period in which the member died. 

Legislative leave of absence – Employers of lawmakers will be required to provide leaves of absence for lawmakers in pursuit of their legislative duties. Candidates must inform employers shortly after filing to run for office. 

Speaker of the House, Senate President pay hikes – the elected leaders of both chambers would receive about twice the pay of other lawmakers. 

The 19-10 margin suggests the Senate, anyway, might not have the 2/3 votes necessary to override any veto by Gov. Phil Scott. After third and final reading today, S.39 will proceed to the House. 

Categories: Legislation

13 replies »

    • Where else can you go and decide on your own pay raise ? If you guessed the Legislature you guessed correctly. Those who are elected by ‘THE PEOPLE ‘. Who are ‘THE PEOPLE ‘ : they are the owners collectively of the state of Vermont. Who are ‘THE LEGISLATURE ‘ : they are the ones elected by The People to represent the owners interest.
      Question —> What job have you ever had where you make the decision for a pay raise, and how much money ? [Of course owners of their own business not included, but if you have people working for you do they decide their pay increase?]

  1. UNBELIEVABLE . . . then, again, not really as most of them are self-serving. Do not believe the rhetoric of. “Oh, it’s not for us as it doesn’t take place until next session” Well, hopefully every one of them that supports this fleecing of the “average Vermonter” will be voted out next election.

  2. With their greedy eyes on the near future, those in favor of this ridiculously excessive and expensive pay hike, see this as an incremental step towards a full time State legislature. Trying to claim that higher pay will attract a more diverse representation is total BS. Vermont needs LESS government meeting less often, not MORE government meeting whenever it wants…

  3. This is starting to look more like a career you can live on. That is not what it’s meant to be.

  4. S.39 still needs to wind it’s way thru the House. While the elitists there will be clamoring for passage- perhaps phil scott may veto- or hold this bill hostage to remove other more odious and repugnant legislation.
    If this pork spending bill makes it to the finish line, the days of a citizen legislature in Vermont will officially end.

  5. They work for 18 weeks and make 13k so that’s 722 each week that is a lot more than others in the state make and with the progressive agenda they support its more than they deserve.

    • And they don’t work Mondays, and they desert the State House on most Fridays any time after noon, like rats leaving a sinking ship, and they have guaranteed preferential parking, so when they come in late, they don’t have to worry about that . SWEET !!!

  6. “Death pay – The estate of a deceased member will receive the entire pay of the two-week period in which the member died.”

    This sounds promising 🤣
    This is the only thing that is.

  7. I support this bill 100%!!! Just think of all the hard work these idiots do for us! Sitting on their FAT BUTTS and coming up with bills to screw us over, such a deal!!.