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As others see it: Set example with freeze

South Dakota lawmakers aren't underpaid. They aren't overpaid, either.

The 105 members of the state Legislature each earn $6,000 during the regular session, which opens in January and ends in March. In addition, they receive mileage reimbursement for traveling between home and the Capitol and $110 per day for expenses whenever the Legislature is in regular or special session.

All told, our state lawmakers receive approximately $9,500 to $10,000 per session plus mileage, which varies by their hometown.

A proposal from a member of the House of Representatives would cut that annual salary, saving the state thousands of dollars a year. Republican Rep. Shantel Krebs has initiated the plan and said the Legislature should set an example by reducing its own spending.

We appreciate Krebs' idea. Times are tough -- we acknowledge that. And the Legislature this year is charged with finding millions of dollars to balance the budget. Through cuts or seemingly crazy ideas -- perhaps a combination of both -- those 105 lawmakers will make some difficult decisions in the final month of the session as they search for approximately $36 million to bring the state books into the black.

Krebs wants the Legislature to approve a 30 percent pay cut, and also that they receive no reimbursement for travel outside of South Dakota. The former would save $190,000 annually, while the latter would create a savings of approximately $250,000 a year.

Any idea that can save a few dollars should be fully examined and considered, but the savings that would be realized by cutting lawmaker salaries is just a drop in the bucket. Remember: The state deficit is approximately $36 million. ...

The Legislature should set an example by freezing their salaries. Reducing their pay -- and by almost a third -- is not the answer.

Mitchell (S.D.) Daily Republic