Legistorm provides Congressional staff salary data, and Lynn Woolsey’s history shows that in 2001 the annual payroll amounted to $724,877, whereas in 2009, the total bill to taxpayers was $1,184,411. The new salaries are 163% of the old. If one looks at the figures for the first half of 2010 and doubles that, the salaries that will be paid this year decline a bit: $1,164,900, but that would still be 161% of the 2001 amount.
If one checks the rate of inflation during the last ten years, it didn’t approach 6% per year. In fact, in no year did it exceed an average of 3.85%, and recently we have even had some deflation. Yet, Lynn Woolsey increased her staff costs an average of 6%+ per annum.
For comparison, let’s look at Rep. Peter King (R-NY) who has been in office long enough to provide us with equal data. In 2001, he spent $599,323 of our money on staff salaries. In 2009, he spent $788,442, which was 132% of the earlier amount. So, this congressman stayed within inflation parameters. In 2010, he is on track to pay out $742,056, which is 124% of the 2001 total. And let’s not overlook the fact that his starting payroll was considerably less and his current payroll is just a little more than Lynn Woolsey’s back in 2001.
Of course, we can find House members who increased their staff budgets more than or the same as Rep. Woolsey did. Legistorm reports on its home page that “[o]verall, the offices for members of the House cost 62 percent more than they did a decade ago,” so her salaries rose in synch with that average. Does the fact that our representative is running with the pack mean we should excuse her rising expenses? I don’t think so. Particularly in the last several years when times have been tough for so many Americans, she and the other members of Congress who increased their spending should be called to account by us voters because it is just another sign of how she and other Washington insiders have lost touch with economic realities. They just spend, spend, spend. And that must stop.
Worth reading too is the source article entitled “Congress’ Operating Costs Skyrocket” on the Capitol News Connection (CNC) website which reports on costs beyond salaries, such as those for security and House (and Senate) leadership offices and extra expenses. It pinpoints key areas of cost, and it notes that since Nancy Pelosi became speaker, the costs of that leadership position have ballooned 62%.
It also notes that House staff salaries (not overall costs cited above) rose on average 39%. So, in comparison with her colleagues, Lynn Woolsey’s salary costs have risen more steeply than the average.
One congresswoman, Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla), “chairman of the House subcommittee on legislative branch appropriations, said she plans to reduce expenses for that chamber by $6.8 million for fiscal year 2011.” However, that reduction would “only reduce legislative branch spending by 0.12 percent.”