Some legislators slow to take a furlough
Laura Smitherman reports today that about a third of Maryland's lawmakers have yet to return a portion of thier salaries as part of an optional furlough program designed to show solidarity with other state workers who find themselves in a not-so-optional furlough program. Under the constitution, legislators can't be forced to take a pay cut during their terms in office, so unlike rank and file workers, quite a few of whom make less for a full-time job than the $43,500 legislators make for a part-time one, all the state can do is implore them to voluntarily share the pain.
What's more, some lawmakers have chosen to donate their money to charity rather than giving it back to the state, which does nothing to help close Maryalnd's $2 billion budget gap (and gets them a tax deduction to boot.)
All in all, dragging your feet in giving back the money would seem like terrible politics. But we've been through this before -- legislators set up a similar voluntary pay giveback scheme in the early '90s, the last time the state was furloughing workers, and not everybody gave back the money then, either. Part of the issue is that the state won't release the names of people who do or do not give back the money, so there's no way for voters to hold lawmakers individually accountable unless they're dumb enough to volunteer the info that they're keeping the cash.