The Nevada Legislature has some diversity, but it’s mainly on the Democrat side. The Republican side has all white male representation with the exception of three white females. Apart from race, these legislators also share the class of higher incomes and age ranges.
There could be more diversity if there were an increase in the legislators’ pay and allowance. Assembly Minority Leader, Republican Pete Goichoechea, said:
“Our legislators tend to be people pretty well set financially or retired people. It is hard for middle-class people to serve.”
For each regular session, Nevada lawmakers get paid $130 per day, but only for the first 60 days of the 120 day session. They also receive a daily allowance for food and lodging. They are further subjected to annual special sessions and interim committee meetings throughout the year. Even Sharron Angle voted to increase this pay, though the bill died in the Senate. In 1865, the bi-annual session may have made sense. Today, being a legislator is a full-time job.
The pay allowed for the Nevada Legislature is not adequate to support potential candidates for service from the middle-class, let alone people of lower incomes. The elitists will argue that people who do not have adequate incomes to serve in Nevada must not have it together. They would prefer the wealthy to run the state. Unfortunately, that would be mostly white males. It would also mean that only their interests were represented, which is arguably the case now.
If Nevadans of middle-class and lower income levels and/or various ages and racial/ethnic backgrounds want their interests represented, it is critical that Nevada increases the pay and allowance for legislators to a humanly acceptable rate. This will encourage a more broad range of people from various age groups, income brackets and skin color to participate in this “democracy.” Then they would also see that the state’s budget problems really aren’t that bad. The state’s budget problems are more indicative of the upper-class interests represented by the people serving in Carson City.
Justin is the publisher The Nevada View, which has earned the recognition in the Washington Post’s “Best State-Based Political Blogs,” as well as being awarded the “Most Valuable Blogger Award” by the local CBS affiliate in 2011. Follow him on Twitter @McAffee