New politician pay deal focus of week-long legislature sitting

EDMONTON — Alberta’s legislature resumes Wednesday for a brief sitting that will see the government OK a new pay deal for politicians, but reject a recommendation to drastically hike Premier Alison Redford’s salary.

EDMONTON — Alberta’s legislature resumes Wednesday for a brief sitting that will see the government OK a new pay deal for politicians, but reject a recommendation to drastically hike Premier Alison Redford’s salary.

Government house leader Dave Hancock says Redford has already made it clear she won’t accept a recommendation to hike her annual pay from $200,000 to $335,000 within two years.

“I think everybody agrees that’s too high, too much of an increase,” Hancock told reporters Tuesday.

That recommendation was one of many made earlier this month in a report by retired Supreme Court Justice John Major.

Hancock said the government will proceed with almost all of the rest of Major’s recommendations including:

l A base salary of $134,000 for all 87 legislature members, with a $67,000 salary bump for cabinet members, the Speaker and Official Opposition leader.

l A cap on the transition allowance to a maximum one year’s pay; the old formula had no ceiling.

l No extra pay for politicians sitting on committees, though cabinet chairpersons would get $200 per meeting.

l An end to the yearly RRSP allowance but implementation of a defined pension plan for MLAs.

l A panel of three judges to be asked to review the compensation rules every four years.

Hancock said while Major recommends more than a quarter of the base salary be kept tax-free, the government will move instead to make the whole $134,000 taxable.

Hancock said that’s the message they’ve heard from Albertans.

The new pay rules will see the politicians earn slightly less than what they are now, but Shayne Saskiw of the opposition Wildrose party says any benefit to taxpayers will be wiped out by the cost of a defined pension benefit plan.

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation estimates there is still $42 million in unfunded pension liabilities from the previous MLA pension program, scrapped by former premier Ralph Klein in 1993.

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