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Lawmakers say they can't stop their 5.3 percent pay hike

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Many Wisconsinites were probably fuming after hearing that their legislators would get a 5.3 percent pay raise next year.

However, Capitol leaders said Tuesday they can't do anything to change it.

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Incoming Assembly Speaker Mike Sheridan, D-Janesville, says lawmakers have the option of turning down their raises, but only one is publicly said to be thinking about it - Assembly Minority Leader Jeff Fitzgerald, R-Horicon.

With the next state budget in the red by more than $5 billion, Sheridan and Senate Majority Leader Russ Decker, D-Weston, said their houses have cut administrative costs and they're freezing lawmakers' expense reimbursements at $88 a day and $44 for Dane County legislators.

Sheridan and Decker also said legislative pay increases have been well below inflation over the last decade. Their salaries will be $49,943 a year for the next two years.

It wasn't that many years ago when legislators voted on their pay raises, but when they got sick of taking the heat, they passed that duty onto their eight-member Joint Committee on Employment Relations.

Jay Heck of Common Cause says that's wrong. He says if politicians want a raise, they should have the guts to vote for one.

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