We pay our state legislators - in both the Assembly and the Senate - a tad less than 50 grand a year, plus all the per-diem money they can grab, which for some of them can amount to another ten grand a year or so.
But in many cases, the elected representatives aides make more than they do - a lot more. Jodi Jensen makes just shy of 90 grand a year as an aide to Representative Mike Huebsch, a Republican from near LaCrosse. Huebsch used to be a big player, when he was Assembly Speaker a few years ago. Now he’s just another one of the 99 game-show hosts in the legislature.
Jensen was his Chief of Staff when Huebsch was the speaker, but now she’s just a “research assistant”. The maximum pay for that job is $58,632. But she’s still paid her former salary of $89.300 a year. That’s because most former aides to the muckity-mucks up there are allowed to keep their higher pay, even when they’re shifted to lower ranking jobs.
In fact, the AP says 43 aides are making a total of 319 grand more than the top pay ranges for their positions, which - curiously - is nearly as much as the 372 grand the Assembly will save by furloughing its employees for 8 days this year.
This is either an argument for paying the 99 clowns in the legislature a much higher salary, or for abandoning the farce of “furloughs”, or for staying within salary guidelines for the job you actually do.
One of our local court jesters, Representative Terese Berceau, told the AP she was “blown away” by how much folks like Jodi Jensen are making. (Let the record show that Berceau is a Democrat, and Huebsch is a Republican.) Just blown away, she was. The AP reporter (Ryan Foley) pointed out that Berceau’s legislative assistant, Brian Rieselman, is being paid over 60 grand in a job that should max out at just over 44 grand.
Well, that’s different!
Rieselman used to work for the Justice Department, where he earned 60 grand, and Berceau didn’t want him to take a pay cut. She told Foley she didn’t try to manipulate the system - she just paid him the highest salary she could.
What a boss!!
Lest you think I’m singling out the politicians for ridicule again, the same thing went on constantly in my former occupation as a broadcaster. Some DJ would get promoted to Program Director and get a nice raise; he’d fail, and be busted back down to DJ, but keep the higher pay.
At least those who are benefitting from this system in the legislature are being rewarded for experience and longevity; and not for failing.
It’s their bosses that do the real failing up there.