Oregon Legislator Salary Analysis

Oregon Legislators’ Salaries

Oregon legislators’ salaries have been below Oregon annual median wages for all occupations since at least 2002. Oregon Revised Statutes 171.072 sets legislators’ salaries.

With passage of House Bill 2597 (2013), determination of State Senator and State Representative annual salaries shifted from the Oregon Public Officials Compensation Commission to the Legislative Assembly.

House Bill 4163 (2018) changed the way legislators’ salaries are determined to “one step below the maximum step of the greater of Salary Range 1 in the Management Service Compensation Plan in the executive department as defined in ORS 174.112 or Seventeen percent of the salary of a circuit court judge.” Under the new law, the Assembly received a 29% raise in 2019 and another 5% in 2021.

Senate Bill 1566 (2022) proposes to change legislators’ annual salaries to “the annual occupational mean wage estimate for Oregon, as determined for the prior calendar year by the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the United States Department of Labor and the state Employment Department.” The adjustement would “be made only once every two years” for “pay periods beginning July 1 following the determination of the annual occupational mean wage estimate.” “[T]he amount a member of the Legislative Assembly receives for services may not be decreased by more than two percent from the annual salary the member received in the prior calendar year.”

The last reported annual mean wage for Oregon was $56,880 in 2020. Estimates are released annually in May. Oregon legislators currently receive an annual salary of $32,839. Changing to the mean wage would have resulted in an $24,041 (73%) increase. The annual mean wage for Oregon has not dropped during the 20 year period examined. So, the provision that prevents wages from decreasing more than two percent is not needed.

The annual mean wage for Oregon during the period 2002–2020 has been consistently 30% higher than the annual median wage. The greater mean wage indicates the wage distribution in Oregon is skewed toward higher earners. The mean is not a robust statistic because it is largely influenced by outliers. The median is a better measure of central tendency of skewed distributions because it isn’t influenced by outliers.

2022 Oregon SB 1566 – Establishes annual salary of members of Legislative Assembly equal to annual occupational mean wage estimate for Oregon for prior year.

LEGISLATION

https://olis.oregonlegislature.gov/liz/2022R1/Measures/Overview/SB1566

Summary: Establishes annual salary of members of Legislative Assembly equal to annual occupational mean wage estimate for Oregon for prior year. Directs that salary of members of Legislative Assembly be adjusted to conform to annual occupational mean wage estimate only once every two years. Applies cost-of-living adjustment to monthly interim expense allowance received by members. Authorizes child care allowance for members who have children or dependents under 13 years of age. Applies to pay periods beginning on or after January 1, 2023. Takes effect on 91st day following adjournment sine die.

Measure History Summary

  • 2/1/2022 (Senate) Referred to Rules.
  • 2/3/2022 (Senate) Public Hearing held. My testimony.
  • 2/22/2022 (Senate) Work Session held.
  • 2/24/2022 (Senate) Recommedation: Do pass with amendments and be referred to Ways and Means.

News Articles

2021 Oregon SB 830 – Establishes annual salary of members of Legislative Assembly at estimated average income of individual residents of Oregon.

LEGISLATION

https://olis.oregonlegislature.gov/liz/2021R1/Measures/Overview/SB830

Summry: Establishes annual salary of members of Legislative Assembly at estimated average income of individual residents of Oregon. Directs Legislative Revenue Officer to make estimate on or before May 1 of each odd-numbered year. Applies to salary pay periods beginning on or after January 1, 2022.

3/3/2021 (Senate) Referred to Rules.

6/26/2021 (Senate) In committee upon adjournment.

2021 Oregon HB 3144 – Establishes annual salary of members of Legislative Assembly at annual mean occupational employment and wage estimate for Oregon for year preceding start of biennium.

LEGISLATION

https://olis.oregonlegislature.gov/liz/2021R1/Measures/Overview/HB3144

Summary: Establishes annual salary of members of Legislative Assembly at annual mean occupational employment and wage estimate for Oregon for year preceding start of biennium. Directs Legislative Revenue Officer to report annual mean occupational employment and wage estimate on or before May 1 of each odd-numbered year. Applies to salary pay periods beginning on or after January 1, 2022.

2/12/2021 (House) Referred to Rules.

3/2/2021 (House) Work Session held.

3/10/2021 (House) Public Hearing held.

6/26/2021 (House) In committee upon adjournment.

2019 Oregon SB 959 – Establishes annual salary of members of Legislative Assembly at estimated average income of individual residents of Oregon.

LEGISLATION

https://olis.oregonlegislature.gov/liz/2019R1/Measures/Overview/SB959

Summary: Establishes annual salary of members of Legislative Assembly at estimated average income of individual residents of Oregon. Directs Legislative Revenue Officer to make estimate on or before May 1 of each odd-numbered year. Applies to salary pay periods beginning on or after January 1, 2020. Takes effect on 91st day following adjournment sine die.

3/6/2019 (Senate) Referred to Rules.

6/30/2019 (Senate) In committee upon adjournment.

2018 HB 4163 – Provides that Higher Education Coordinating Commission, instead of Oregon Department of Administrative Services, receives appropriations to pay bond-related costs of certain Article XI-G bonds.

https://olis.oregonlegislature.gov/liz/2018R1/Measures/Overview/HB4163

Summary: Provides that Higher Education Coordinating Commission, instead of Oregon Department of Administrative Services, receives appropriations to pay bond-related costs of certain Article XI-G bonds. Provides that commission may enter into agreements with Oregon Health and Science University to receive debt service payments for certain bond obligations and administer certain tax compliance obligations. Validates appropriations to Oregon Criminal Justice Commission and Department of Justice in chapter 673, Oregon Laws 2017. Validates expenditures by commission and department pursuant to appropriations. Repeals and reenacts program in which commission awards supplemental grants to counties for downward departure prison diversion programs. Sunsets program on July 1, 2023. Provides that civil penalties for certain violations related to cannabis are deposited in General Fund. Deletes provision relating to addition of fees by Department of Revenue to liquidated and delinquent debts to recover costs of data match system. Requires Secretary of State to contract for periodic actuarial review of Public Employees Retirement System. Requires secretary to submit review to Public Employees Retirement Board and Joint Legislative Audit Committee. Provides that Oregon Health Authority may appoint designee to carry out certain duties related to cancer registry system. Removes requirement that Legislative Branch must contribute six percent of salary for legislator members of state deferred compensation plan. Makes permanent current law relating to establishment of legislator salaries. Increases salaries of judges of Court of Appeals, Supreme Court, circuit courts and Oregon Tax Court. Transfers Oregon Volunteers Commission for Voluntary Action and Service from Office of Governor to Higher Education Coordinating Commission. Modifies duties of volunteers commission. Declares emergency, effective on passage.

3/2/2018 (House) Public Hearing and Work Session held.

3/3/2018 (House) Rules suspended. Passed.

3/3/2018 (Senate) Rules suspended. Passed.

4/10/2018 Governor signed. Effective date April 10, 2018.

Changed the Legislative Assembly’s annual salary to: (a) One step below the maximum step of Salary Range 1 in the Management Service Compensation Plan in the executive department as defined in ORS 174.112; or (b) Seventeen percent of the salary of a circuit court judge.