The Average Salary of a Legislator in Wyoming

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The website of the Wyoming Legislature says proudly that the state is one of the few that has "a true part-time citizen legislature." The site acknowledges that, for legislators at least, this has its advantages and disadvantages. The advantage is that it keeps legislators "in closer touch" with the people they serve. The disadvantage: legislators don't get much in the way of compensation for their service.

Pay Rate

  • Wyoming legislators are not paid an annual salary. Rather, they receive a daily rate for each day that the Legislature is in session. As of 2011, the rate was $150 per day, but this applies only to days when the Legislature conducts business. A legislator may be in the state capital, Cheyenne, for four weeks, or 28 days, but if the Legislature isn't meeting on weekends, she'd get paid for just 20 days. The rate is the same for members of the Wyoming House, which has 60 seats, and for members of the state Senate, which has 30 seats.

Length of Session

  • The Wyoming Legislature meets each year, though it conducts different business in alternating years. In odd-numbered years, the Legislature holds a "general session." This is a session in which it passes laws, works on the state budget and conducts other business. In even-numbered years, the Legislature holds a "budget session," in which it works only on budget matters. By law, the general session is limited to 40 working days, but the Legislature's website says the average session lasts 38 days. Budget sessions don't have a fixed length, but the website says they typically last 20 days.

Computing Salary

  • Taking the $150 daily rate, and using the Wyoming Legislature's own estimates for the average length of a session, the average salary of a Wyoming legislator, as of 2011, comes out to $5,700 in a year with a general session, and $3,000 in a year with a budget session, for a total of $8,700 over two years.

Expenses

  • Wyoming legislators also receive money to cover their expenses, such as lodging, meals and travel costs. Since these are simply reimbursements for costs incurred by the legislators, these don't count as salary. In general, a legislator gets a "per diem" -- a daily stipend for expenses -- of $109 for each day the Legislature is in session. Lawmakers who live outside the Cheyenne area can claim a per diem for travel days. Those legislators also get a reimbursement for travel costs based on how many miles they have to drive to get to Cheyenne.

References

  • Photo Credit Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images
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