Be quick but don’t hurry

Pay is deserved... if good work gets done

By Walt Braun

We’re not going to get too worked up because most Kansas legislators who represent this part of the state are accepting their pay and expenses during the 2012 Legislature’s overtime period.

Though we’re disappointed that lawmakers as a group didn’t get the public’s business done on time, we don’t hold our local group responsible. Most local legislators, especially state Sen. Roger Reitz and state Reps. Sydney Carlin and Tom Phillips, are conscientious individuals with generally moderate political views. They’re not extremists who shun the sort of middle ground that’s often necessary for legislation to get approved.

In fact, we like to think the local legislative delegation is part of the solution to what ails government these days, not part of the problem.

Sen. Reitz and Rep. Carlin are continuing to accept pay and expenses, while Rep. Phillips, contending that going without pay might motivate lawmakers to focus on the tasks at hand, has turned down his pay but is accepting daily expenses.

Kansas legislators aren’t paid vast sums; they certainly aren’t in it for the money. Normal compensation comes to $88.66 a day in salary and $123 a day in expenses.

Yes, given that all but a couple dozen legislators are continuing to accept pay and expenses, the total can accumulate quickly. And although giving up pay for work that should have been done by now might provide the motivation Rep. Phillips mentions, it also might lead lawmakers to move too quickly.

Hurrying to get done can be and has at times in the past been a recipe for ill-advised, incomplete or otherwise flawed legislation. Kansans don’t need that.

Legislative sessions don’t always run long, but it happens more often than it should. Pushing and prodding — by constituents via emails and phone calls and by newspapers through editorials — only does so much good in changing human nature. Some legislators are excessively fond of the sound of their own voice and the brilliance of their own ideas, but as a rule, elected officials in Kansas try to do what they believe is best for their districts and the state.

We just wish they could find a way to do it in the allotted time.

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