Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Tuesday Afternoon Mississippi Republican Party Propaganda Update

The Mississippi Republican Party has been issuing "Liberal Democrat Alerts" on Tuesday mornings, taking aim at legislative Democrats.  You might expect them to accuse folks of voting for abortion on demand or socialized healthcare (you know, actual liberal things), but instead they generally just call some proposal to entice social workers to underprivileged areas or a bill to make sure Mississippi gets its share of stimulus money "liberal."

They also seem to have a bent towards talking about how elected officials get paid for their jobs. Well, this morning, they went after Sen. Debbie Dawkins (D-Pass Christian) and Rep. Dirk Dedeaux (D-Perkinston) for the "shocking" amount of money they've made from their "part-time jobs" as legislators over the last four years.  I agree that it would be shocking if their compensation was somehow inexplicably out of line with Republican legislators.

Of course that's not the case.

The Republican hit piece says "Since her last election in November 2007, Deborah Dawkins has taken in just shy of $190,000 in taxpayer dollars for her 'part-time' job as a State Senator." (Emphasis in the original.)  So how much did Sen. Dawkins earn during that four-year period? $189,641.90.  That total includes her salary, travel, and per diem.

Well, what about Sen. Merle Flowers (R-Southaven)? $211,093.20.

Or, say, Sen. Terry Brown (R-Columbus)? $202,656.75.

Then how about Sen. Tom King (R-Petal)? $204,962.06.

And what about Sen. Nolan Mettetal (R-Sardis), who is now leaving the Senate and running for the House? $213,085.60.

Or, maybe, Sen. Billy Hewes (R-Gulfport), who is now running for Lt. Governor? $248,923.53. (His salary is higher because he served as President pro tempore of the Senate for the last four years.  That, too, is a part-time job.)

So, on average, those four Senators drawing the same salary as Sen. Dawkins brought in $18,307.50 more than her apiece during that four year period, or $4,576.88 more each year per senator.

Now let's get back to Rep. Dedeaux who the Republican hit piece said "took in over $208,000 in taxpayer dollars for his 'part-time' job as a State Representative." (Emphasis in the original.) In fact, Rep. Dedeaux earned $208,194.46 over the last four years in salary, travel, and per diem.

Now, by statute, representatives and senators draw the exact same salaries.  So while Rep. Dedeaux drew more money in travel and per diem than Sen. Dawkins, he did have more in expenses.  That, of course, is understandable, given his position as Chair of the House Medicaid Committee, which has been more than a little busy over the last four years.  By comparison, Sen. Flowers and Sen. Mettetal, who chair the Senate Ethics and Public Utilities, respectively, both got more in compensation than Rep. Dedeaux.  Sen. Brown, Chair of the Senate Fees Committee, got slightly less than Dedeaux, as did Sen. King, Chair of Senate Transportation.

So, I wonder: since Hewes, Mettetal, King, Brown, and Flowers all got more than Dawkins, shouldn't they be the ones on the Tuesday Morning Liberal Alert from the Mississippi Republican Party?

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