By Sara Gentzler
Flatwater Free Press 

The cost of low pay: The $12,000 salary is warping the Nebraska Legislature


December 22, 2022

Laura Beahm | Flatwater Free Press

Career or service • Nebraska state senator Wendy DeBoer, of Omaha, leads a discussion with her Hebrew Bible class Wednesday, Dec. 14, at Hastings College.

Third-party ads that targeted state Sen. Tony Vargas during his recent run for U.S. Congress featured incredulous voices, baffled over a seemingly selfish move: He wanted to "double his own salary" with taxpayer money.

What the ads didn't say: Nebraska's 49 lawmakers have been paid $12,000 a year since George H. W. Bush was first elected president, leg warmers were en vogue and Rick Astley's "Never Gonna Give You Up" blasted unironically from boomboxes. If their pay had kept pace with inflation since 1988, senators today would make more than $30,000.

Low pay affects the composition of the...

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