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In "Raises for legislators" (Forum, Feb. 4), Virginia Riley thinks Utah's legislators make too much because their average weekday pay when the Legislature is in session far exceeds the average weekday pay of teachers.

As a former legislator, I have deep concerns for our teachers; two are in my family. Service in the Legislature is difficult. Due to the large amount of time they spend on the job, legislators have lost their full-time jobs and diminished their businesses.

It is unfair to divide the amount a member receives by the 33 legislative weekdays and compare that to teachers' average weekday pay. Most of those days require legislators to work 12-14 hours, and their weekends are not free.

After the 45-day legislative session, the legislator's work goes on, with uncompensated invitations to community events and thousands of uncompensated miles and hours.

I do not seek to diminish the problems of education and the challenges faced by teachers, who are underpaid. But using the Legislature as a comparative example does not fit, since both teachers and legislators are underpaid.

Should teachers be paid more? Yes! Legislators? No. It is a public service, and to compensate them for the total of time they expend would defeat that purpose.

Lowell A. Nelson


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