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As lawmakers' salaries near $50K, some question need for full-time Legislature

The current president of the Wisconsin Senate made $200 a month when he was first elected in 1956.

In January, Madison Democrat Fred Risser and his colleagues will get just under $50,000 a year.

That's 5.3 percent more than the last legislative pay raise almost two years ago. The current salary of $47,000-plus is the ninth-highest in the country, according to the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance.

And University of Wisconsin-Green Bay professor emeritus David Littig says there could be a political uproar over a legislative pay raise, at a time when other government workers might face pay freezes and layoffs.

That's because the next state budget will be at least $3 billion in the hole.

The Tax Alliance says Wisconsin is one of just 10 states with full-time legislatures. And Mike McCabe of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign says the change has not served the people very well.

He says citizens lawmakers have been replaced by career politicians who do non-stop fundraising instead of getting their work done on time.