Ohio bill would give raises, COLA to politicians


By Maggie Thurber | For Ohio Watchdog

PAY RAISE: Rep. Gerald Stebelton thinks the time is right for a pay raise and cost-of-living increases for certain Ohio politicians.

Rep. Gerald Stebelton thinks it’s time for a raise, but some Ohioans we talked to aren’t so sure.

Stebelton, a Republican from Lancaster, on Monday introduced House Bill 661. It would reinstate the cost-of-living increases for statewide office holders and grant a raise and COLA to judges and county and township elected officials.

Wages for those officials were frozen in 2008. A fiscal analysis of the bill, which would provide an estimate of the cost of the pay increases, was not yet available.

“Especially for those office holders who are moving into an office in the beginning of next year, if we don’t pass something now they will not be able to receive a raise for another four years,” Stebelton told Gongwer-Ohio. “So they would not be able to have a raise, in term, unless the statue provides for it and we don’t have any of that today.”

But Joe Thorpe of Toledo had a question: “What have they done to deserve a pay increase?”

Thorpe, who is retired, called reinstating the COLA “reasonable. Even I get a COLA in my railroad pension,” he said, but he didn’t think a raise along with allowance was a wise move.

Toledoan Paul Anderson also questioned whether a raise was warranted.

“That seems exorbitant,” he said, “for what they’re actually doing.”

Anderson thought Ohioans should vote on the idea, and he wondered why the idea wasn’t mentioned before the election.

A similar pay increase bill was considered during the 2012 lame duck session.

Sen. Cliff Hite, R-Findlay, in September said he supports pay increases, and voting on the bill in the lame duck session could help lawmakers”concerned about political ramifications.”

That would be just fine will Allen Edwards. He said officials should “go for it.”

“They’ve sacrificed a lot and are bringing jobs to the state,” Edwards said.

The bill was referred to the House Finance and Appropriations Committee.