Legislative Compensation

By: Dick Smith

Type: General Entry

Published: 1976

Updated: March 1, 1995

The Constitution of 1876 set the legislator's compensation at five dollars a day for the first sixty days of a regular session and two dollars thereafter. During the thirty days of a special session he was to receive five dollars a day. A constitutional amendment adopted in 1930 changed the per diem to ten dollars for the first 120 days of a regular session and five dollars thereafter. The special session per diem was ten dollars. In 1954 another constitutional amendment raised the per diem to not more than twenty-five dollars for the first 120 days of a regular session and nothing thereafter. During special sessions the per diem was twenty five dollars. Still another constitutional amendment, adopted on November 8, 1960, allowed the legislature to pay its members an annual salary not to exceed $4,800, in addition to a per diem of twelve dollars during the first 120 days of a regular session and during 30 days of each special session. This rule was amended once again, on April 22, 1975, so that members of the legislature (although still meeting only every other year) received an annual salary of $7,200, plus a per diem of thirty dollars during both the regular and special sessions. A limit of 140 days was placed on the regular session. In 1991 the attorney general issued an opinion suggesting that the thirty-dollar per diem be regarded as part of a legislator's salary. Additionally, representatives who lived outside the Austin area could be eligible for an eighty-five-dollar per diem. Though the salaries of the legislators remained among the lowest in the nation, they had generous retirement benefits, starting at more than $19,000 a year, the third highest in the nation. Retirement pay was not subject to voter approval.

Austin American-Statesman, June 1, 5, 1991. Wilbourn E. Benton, Texas: Its Government and Politics (Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 1961; 4th ed. 1977). Stuart A. MacCorkle, Dick Smith, and Janice C. May, Texas Government, 8th ed. (New York: McGraw Hill, 1980). Clifton McCleskey, The Government and Politics of Texas (Boston: Little, Brown, 1975).

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Dick Smith, “Legislative Compensation,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 28, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/legislative-compensation.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

March 1, 1995