Bill Cohen followed up on our story about GOP Senate staff raises with State Senate GOP spokesperson John McClelland who confirmed the raises and provided what seemed like a reasonable response:

“Why in the middle of a serious budget crunch is the Senate giving pay hikes? Republican McClelland says it’s to keep hard working staffers with what he calls ‘institutional knowledge’ on the job. He said some have been offered jobs elsewhere and senate leaders don’t want to lose them.”

I couldn’t agree more. ALL Hard working, experienced public employees deserve to be paid fairly for their service, commitment and experience – and we should consider this experience when trying to retain quality employees.

But for McClelland and Senate Leaders, experience only seems to matter when it comes to legislative staff.

McClelland’s response might actually have some merit if the Senators he represents hadn’t forced through Senate Bill 5 – which specifically forbids public employees from getting raises based only on experience and specifically forbids local communities from using experience as the only factor in determining which employees should keep their jobs.

So the Senate forces through an unpopular law preventing public employees – including teachers, fire fighters and police officers – from receiving pay increases based solely on experience. And then they defend their own staff raises claiming the recipients deserve more money because of their experience?

Webster’s defines a hypocrite as “a person who acts in contradiction to his or her stated beliefs or feelings.”

Call me selfish, but if the choice is between giving raises to people who helped push through unnecessary, union-busting legislation and the people who teach my kids math and pull me from burning buildings, I’m going to vote for the latter.

Cohen’s piece also quotes McClelland saying the retention of experienced Senate staffers is even more important “in an era of term limits that cap the experience level of legislators themselves.”

So we need experienced legislative staff because all of the legislators are inexperienced?

Suddenly the disastrous legislative decisions of the 129th General Assembly can be put into context: inexperience.