DENVER (AP) – A Democrat seeking to unseat a Republican congressman routinely tells voters that he cut his own pay in the state Legislature to set an example about fiscal discipline.
But there’s more to the story of the pay cut claimed by Joe Miklosi. The Democrat challenging Rep. Mike Coffman tells voters that he cut his own pay 2 percent.
“I even lowered my salary 2 percent to set an example,” Miklosi told supporters at an event announcing his candidacy. He has repeated the claim in speeches and campaign mailers sent to voters.
Miklosi is referring to a budget-balancing measure passed by the state Legislature in 2011 that required all state employees to contribute more toward their retirement plans. The measure has since expired. It did not cut lawmakers’ $30,000 salaries, though it did reduce take-home pay.
Three other state lawmakers – Democrats Sal Pace and Brandon Shaffer and Republican Kevin Lundberg – are challenging incumbent congressmen. All three voted for the temporary retirement change, too, but none of them is using it as a campaign plank.
Republicans say Miklosi’s pay-cut claim is misleading. They point out that at the time the shift was approved, lawmakers didn’t rise to claim they were cutting their pay to set an example.
“The way he phrases bit, it’s as though it was a special vote for the Legislature. In fact, it was a vote that covered every state employee. This looks a little bit like retroactive virtue,” said Joshua Sharf of the right-leaning Denver-based political blog WhoSaidYouSaid.
A Republican who served with Miklosi chuckled Monday when asked whether the retirement change could fairly be called a pay cut.
“It’s a bit of a stretch,” Rep. Jim Kerr said.
Miklosi’s camp insists that the retirement shift was a pay cut and worth pointing out to voters.
“It’s just an example of the shared sacrifices that people in state government have made to balance the budget,” Miklosi spokesman Ryan Hobart said Monday.
Miklosi favors an idea put forward by House Democrats in the past to stop congressional pay when Congress fails to pass a budget. That proposal has failed. A similar idea was suggested on the state level by Shaffer this year, but that proposal failed, too, amid concerns it was unnecessary. Colorado lawmakers are required by law to pass a budget.
Coffman has floated his own ideas to go after congressional pay and benefits. Coffman proposed eliminating congressional pensions and another measure to freeze congressional pay hikes. Neither has come to a vote.
– By Kristen Wyatt, AP Writer
Associated Press writer Ivan Moreno contributed to this report.
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