DENVER (AP) - Call it a Taxpayer's Bill of Rights aimed at politicians' pay, if you will.
Rep. Douglas Bruce is drafting a plan to ask voters to limit pay raises for state and local politicians. It uses a formula linked to inflation and requires voter approval for anything more.
The Taxpayer's Bill of Rights, which the Colorado Springs Republican helped write, uses a similar formula to limit the growth of state and local government budgets.
But Bruce said Friday he doesn't see many similarities between the two.
Like TABOR, the new measure would be part of the state Constitution if voters approve, but it must get support from two-thirds of the members in each house at the Legislature before it can get on the ballot.
The proposal is getting a lukewarm reception from Bruce's colleagues and probably won't pass.
'Salaries are voted on in public by the members,' said Senate Minority Leader Andy McElhany, R-Colorado Springs. 'They have to be responsible for their votes to their constituents, as they do on every other issue,' he said.
Bruce's salary measure, which is still being drafted, would set a politician's base pay at the office's 1992 level plus inflation since then. Voters would have to approve any increase that exceeds an inflation-based formula after that.
The measure would also abolish the daily expense payments for state lawmakers, known as per diems. The state pays a per diem of $150 a day for legislators who live outside the Denver area and $45 a day for those who live in metro Denver.
Most lawmakers get $12,000 to $18,000 a year in per diem expenses on top of their $30,000 annual salaries.
Bruce estimated his 1992-plus-inflation formula would put lawmakers' pay at about $50,000 a year, more than their current salaries and per diem combined.
But he said they would have to pay taxes on all of that. Currently, they don't pay taxes on per diem payments, which are doled out to cover living expenses while the Legislature is in session.
'It not really a pay raise because they'd be paying taxes on their earnings,' Bruce said.
The per diem system tripped up Bruce this month when he signed a form prepared by legislative staffers claiming expenses for five days that fell before he took office. Bruce said it was inadvertent and that he would return the money.
The state office that handles the per diems took responsibility for the overpayment.
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