I couldn’t agree more, and have made several postings on the subject.
Of Texas low-paid Texas legislators, Bell wrote this:
“Unless they’re retired or independently wealthy, they’re in a tough spot. There aren’t a whole lot of jobs that lend themselves to a legislator’s schedule, so those in office become prime targets”
Why do we pay our legislators at a level that is sub minimum wage? Well for one, they only work 140 days per year every other year. We have a part-time legislature so they are paid for part-time work.
Why does the second most populous state in America have a part-time legislature? I checked and it’s because of the reaction to Reconstruction. I found this here:
“Harvey Tucker, a political scientist at Texas A&M University and an expert on the Texas Legislature, says that Texas biennial sessions and low pay for legislators date to the post-Civil War era.”
"’It has to do with the time period when the constitution of Texas was written. It’s a post-Reconstruction reaction. Southerners viewed Reconstruction as a foreign army,’ he said. ‘When they got control, they said 'never will we have state government -- Yankee or Texan -- with that kind of power again.'"
And there is some evidence that a full-time well-paid legislature is freer of potential conflict. From the same article:
“Full-time legislators may be less inclined to be swayed by special interests and be accused of a conflict of interest because they are more likely to be paid a decent wage, they say”
"We don’t see examples of outright conflicts in California, but that doesn’t mean they’re not there. My feeling is, California legislators have less time to have outside income than obviously the legislators in Texas."
“I would also like to read fewer stories about the conflicts of interest and ethical challenges faced by lawmakers because of the obvious need most have to supplement their income.”
I’m with Chris Bell. Let’s let sanity prevail. Let’s have a full-time high quality legislature that is well-paid and limited to other outside sources of income.