POLITICS

Alberta politicians to get single salary, committee meeting pay axed

06/07/2012 10:32 EDT | Updated 08/07/2012 05:12 EDT
EDMONTON - An Alberta legislature committee has voted to adopt a single, fully taxable salary for MLAs.

The move formally ends the practice of politicians getting extra pay for attending committee meetings and eliminates the tax-free portion of their salaries they had been receiving for decades.

All were recommendations from a review conducted by retired justice John Major.

The member services committee has also axed the controversial transition allowance that saw veteran MLAs take away hundreds of thousands of dollars when they retired or lost their seats.

Retroactive to April 23, Alberta politicians will now receive a base salary of $134,000.

The premier, Opposition leader, cabinet minister and some other officials will still receive extra allowances.

Speaker Gene Zwozdesky asked the committee to deal with the recommendations quickly.

Zwozdesky says he'd been receiving calls from politicians, wanting to know when they were going to be paid.

Alberta Wildrose members on the committee voted against the changes because they will trigger a small pay hike for cabinet ministers and Premier Alison Redford, although far less than originally recommended by Major.

Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith says that with the province still running budget deficits, it's not the time for provincial leaders "to be increasing their pay."

Alberta Liberal Leader Raj Sherman abstained from the vote and then left the meeting, saying it was wrong for politicians to set their own salaries.

The committee tabled recommendations to bring back an MLA pension plan, and to have a panel of judges review their salaries every four years.

(CKUA)