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Does Higher Pay to Legislators Lead to Better Governance?

The pay to state legislators varies dramatically from state to state. In one state, it’s zero and in another state it’s $100 per year. At the high end, it reaches $119,702 per year.
Do we get better governance from legislatures in which the politicians are paid more? The quick answer is no. If anything, it’s the other way around. The two legislatures in which politicians are paid the most are arguably the states that are among the worst governed. And a number of the states where politicians are paid modestly or very little have some of the best governance. The National Conference of State Legislatures reports all the data here.
The prize for best-paid politicians goes to California, where the base salary is $119,702 per year. But that’s the only prize California wins. The fact that legislators are paid so much means that many of them can make politics a full-time job. That gives them time to pass more legislation. And a large percentage of legislation in California imposes new regulations or implements new spending programs, rather than repealing regulations or cutting spending. 
It’s true that California’s state bureaucracies, not the legislature, impose some of the worst regulations. The ban on new gas-fired furnaces and water heaters, for instance, which will start in 2030, was imposed by the California Air Resources Board. But a legislature could overturn this ban. Apparently not enough of the politicians want to. Californians don’t get good administrative oversight for their tax dollars.
Second place in the legislator pay competition goes to New York. Enough said.
On the other end, New Mexico legislators are paid zero. Instead, they get a per diem of $202 per day. By far the lowest paid legislators, when you include per diems, is New Hampshire: Legislators’ base pay is $100 for the year and their per diem is zero. Their only monetary pay is 58.5 cents per mile for driving to and from the state capital in Concord.
And what do people in New Hampshire get in return for this low pay? Let’s see. They pay no sales tax and no income tax. That sounds like a good deal to me.
Interestingly, Texas and Florida are on the low end of legislator pay. Texas legislators get a base salary of only $7,200 plus a per diem of $221 and they are reimbursed for mileage. Florida legislators’ base pay is only $29,967 and they get a per diem of $152 plus mileage charges. Is it simply a happy coincidence that neither Texas nor Florida has a state income tax? I think not.