Why I Voted to Raise the #AZLeg Per Diem

[On Monday, May 27, the Arizona Legislature voted to raise the per diem compensation. This is my floor speech to explain my vote.]

When I decided to run for office in January 2016, I stepped down as managing editor of the American Journal of Medicine and became social media editor. With this step, I took a 60% pay cut. I knew I would be bringing in less money, but we thought it would all even out working two part-time jobs (with one of those part-time jobs being 24/7.)

When I was elected to the Arizona House, I didn’t realize how much I would have to pay out of pocket.

The Cost to Serve

Currently, Arizona Legislators are paid $24,000 with a $60 per diem for rural/out of Maricopa County folks and $35 per diem for Maricopa County legislators– for the first 120 days of session. The per diem drops to $20 and $10, respectively, after 120 days and during the interim.

Each year in the fall, I rent a small apartment for six months for $1000-1200 per month plus Internet, water, electric and fees. Since it is a six-month lease, there is an additional charge per month tacked on for that convenience. (Large corporate apartment complexes love to add fees– on-time payment fees if you use a debit card, late fees, recycling fees, pet fees, “association” fees, etc.) Pretty much my whole in-session per diem goes to housing.

In fact, this year when I applied to rent my apartment, I sent them my pay stub from the Legislature to the apartment complex’s management company. A few days later, they sent me a kind rejection notice saying that with a salary of $24,000, I didn’t qualify to rent a 400 square-foot studio apartment. I replied, “Don’t worry. I have a second job!” And sent them my pay stub from the journal.

Let that sink in. On my Legislative salary, I didn’t qualify to rent a tiny studio apartment in midtown Phoenix.

Continue reading Why I Voted to Raise the #AZLeg Per Diem

In Their Own Words: #PowersForThePeople Voters Speak Out (video)

Taundra Copley

Tomorrow is the Democratic Party Primary. August 30, 2016 has been in the back of my mind since I created my Pamela Powers Hannley for House Campaign Committee on August 19, 2016.

The campaign has been a heart-warming, physically-demanding, soul-searching, eye-opening, stress-inducing educational experience. Today’s post is not mine, though. It belongs to my supporters. Nine of my supporters– all LD9 voters, including several LD9 precinct committee people– agreed to make testimonial videos.

What do a world-renowned cardiologist, a stay-at-home Mom, two small business owners, two retirees, a college student, a painter, and a jeweler all have in common? They’re all voting for me in the August 30 Democratic Party Primary.

My neighbor and stay-at-home Mom Taundra Copley supports me because she believes that I will help single-income families like hers by raising wages and building a strong and just economy. She believes that families that choose to have one parent stay at home with young children should be able to live without financial hardship or public assistance.

Continue reading In Their Own Words: #PowersForThePeople Voters Speak Out (video)