January 8, 2013

by Les

Today, the biennial session of the Texas Legislature begins. They meet in the Texas State Capitol, an 1885 structure paid for with three million acres of land in the Texas panhandle.
Texas State Capitol - Austin, Texas

The Texas legislature is in session for 140 days every two years.

Representative and senators are paid $600 per month, plus $150 per day when the legislature is in session. That puts the average pay at $17,700 per year for a two year term. That’s under the poverty level for a three-person family, according to the U.S.Census Bureau, so Texas politics does not seem like a rewarding career.

Yet a lot of people put a big effort (and a lot of money) into getting elected. My own local representative, Hubert Vo, is a good example. He has won repeated re-election in competitive elections, and my mailbox can witness the support he gives to the postal service, but he needs some way of making a living. This he does by owning apartments, and renting them out. Some might call him a slumlord.

Of course, there is no conflict of interest in being Vice-Chair of the Economic and Small Business Development Legislative Committee. Which brings up another interesting feature of the Texas Legislature: Vo is in a leadership position in the committee, even though he is a Democrat and the Republicans have a 95-55 majority in the Texas House.

Texas is different.