Now is your last chance to tell state lawmakers not to accept 5.3 percent pay raises in the face of a massive state budget deficit.
Call, e-mail or write to your senator and representative this week.
Rejecting the raise would help close a record state budget gap. If every lawmaker turned down his or her scheduled pay hike, it would save more than $660,000 over the 2009-2010 legislative session.
That's real money. And lawmakers would be leading by example in accepting some self-sacrifice.
The first paychecks to lawmakers will be sent out in early February. Each lawmaker is to receive a raise of $2,530, which will boost his or her annual salary to $49,943.
Lawmakers also receive an average of $11,500 in daily allowances for expenses each year. And most of them find plenty of time for second jobs outside the Capitol. In fact, a survey of legislators showed that most of them don't consider their Capitol seats a full-time job.
The State Journal editorial board first urged lawmakers in September to reject their scheduled pay raises. So far, only a handful of public servants - including Waunakee's Jon Erpenbach, Dodgeville's Steve Hilgenberg and Lodi's Keith Ripp - have announced they'll follow our advice.
Other lawmakers say they deserve the higher pay and will take it. But whether they deserve it is not the point. Millions of people in Wisconsin may deserve raises. Yet in tough economic times, pay is often frozen and some jobs are lost.
It would be a lot easier for the public to accept cuts in state services if state leaders felt the pinch themselves.
About a dozen lawmakers say they'll take the raise and give it to charity. But that doesn't help the state's bottom line.
By far, most lawmakers have been silent on the question, probably hoping to quietly take the money with little fallout.
So it's in your hands. Call the Legislature's hotline at 800-362-9472 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. weekdays and encourage your senator and representative to just say "no" to more pay during tough times. Lawmakers can easily reject their raise by filling out a "Salary Return Form."
We'll update our charts next month so readers know what each politician did.
\ Returning pay raise
Sens. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills; Jon Erpenbach, D-Waunakee; Ted Kanavas, R-Brookfield; Dan Kapanke, R-La Crosse; Joe Leibham, R-Sheboygan; Reps. Steve Hilgenberg, D-Dodgeville; Keith Ripp, R-Lodi; Bob Ziegelbauer, D-Manitowoc.
\ Accepting the raise
Sens. Russ Decker, D-Weston; Neal Kedzie, R-Elkhorn; Alan Lasee,R-De Pere; Mary Lazich, R-New Berlin; Judy Robson, D-Beloit; Reps. Pedro Colon, D-Milwaukee; Joel Kleefisch, R-Oconomowoc; Joe Parisi, D-Madison; Sondy Pope-Roberts, D-Middleton; Jeff Smith, D-Eau Claire; Jeffrey Stone, R-Greendale; Mike Sheridan, D-Janesville.
Those accepting the raise and pledging to give it to charity include: Sens. Rob Cowles, R-Green Bay; Michael Ellis, R-Neenah; Randy Hopper, R-Fond du Lac; Dale Schultz, R-Richland Center; Reps. Chuck Benedict, D-Beloit; Spencer Black, D-Madison; Brett Davis, R-Oregon; Fred Kessler, D-Milwaukee; Stephen Nass, R-Whitewater; John Nygren, R-Marinette; Kevin Petersen, R-Waupaca; Pat Strachota, R-West Bend.
\ Undecided or won't say
Sens. Timothy Carpenter, D-Milwaukee; Spencer Coggs, D-Milwaukee; Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau; Glenn Grothman, R-West Bend; Dave Hansen, D-Green Bay; Sheila Harsdorf, R-River Falls; Jim Holperin, D-Conover; Robert Jauch, D-Poplar; Pat Kreitlow, D-Chippewa Falls; Julie Lassa, D-Stevens Point; John Lehman, D-Racine; Mark Miller, D-Monona; Luther Olsen, R-Ripon; Jeffrey Plale, D-South Milwaukee; Fred Risser, D-Madison; Jim Sullivan, D-Wauwatosa; Lena Taylor, D-Milwaukee; Kathleen Vinehout, D-Alma; Robert Wirch, D-Pleasant Prairie; Reps. Joan Ballweg, R-Markesan; Peter Barca, D-Kenosha; Terese Berceau, D-Madison; Penny Bernard Schaber, D-Appleton; Garey Bies, R, Sister Bay; Ed Brooks, R-Reedsburg; Fred Clark, D-Baraboo; David Cullen, D-Milwaukee; Chris Danou, D-Trempeleau; Kristen Dexter, D-Eau Claire; Jason Fields, D-Milwaukee; Jeff Fitzgerald, R-Horicon; Donald Friske, R-Merrill; Phil Garthwaite, D-Dickeyville; Mark Gottlieb, R-Port Washington; Tamara Grigsby, D-Milwaukee; Scott Gunderson, R-Waterford; Mark Gundrum, R-New Berlin; Gary Hebl, D-Sun Prairie; Gordon Hintz, D-Oshkosh; Kim Hixson, D-Whitewater; Mark Honadel, R-South Milwaukee; Ann Hraychuck, D-Balsam Lake; Mary Hubler, D-Rice Lake; Michael Huebsch, R-West Salem; Andy Jorgensen, D-Fort Atkinson; Dean Kaufert, R-Neenah; Samantha Kerkman, R-Genoa City; Steven Kestell, R-Elkhart Lake; Dan Knodl, R-Germantown; Bill Kramer, R-Waukesha; Margaret Krusick, D-Milwaukee; Daniel LeMahieu, R-Cascade; Thomas Lothian, R-Williams Bay; Cory Mason, D-Racine; Dan Meyer, R-Eagle River; Nick Milroy, D-Superior; Louis Molepske Jr., D-Stevens Point; Phil Montgomery, R-Green Bay; Jeffrey Mursau, R-Crivitz; John Murtha, R-Baldwin; Tom Nelson, D-Kaukauna; Lee Nerison, R-Westby; Scott Newcomer, R-Hartland; Alvin Ott, R-Forest Junction; Jim Ott, R-Mequon; Sandy Pasch, D-Whitefish Bay; Jerry Petrowski, R-Marathon; Mark Pocan, D-Madison; Don Pridemore, R-Hartford; Mark Radcliffe, D-Black River Falls; Kitty Rhoades, R-Hudson; Jon Richards, D-Milwaukee; Roger Roth, R-Appleton; Kelda Roys, D-Madison; Marlin Schneider, D-Wisconsin Rapids; Donna Seidel, D-Wausau; Gary Sherman, D-Port Wing; Jennifer Shilling, D-La Crosse; Christine Sinicki, D-Milwaukee; James Soletski, D-Green Bay; Richard Spanbauer, R-Oshkosh; Tony Staskunas, D-West Allis; John Steinbrink, D-Pleasant Prairie; Scott Suder, R-Abbotsford; Gary Tauchen, R-Bonduel; Barbara Toles, D-Milwaukee; John Townsend, R-Fond du Lac; Robert Turner, D-Racine; Terry Van Akkeren, D-Sheboygan; Karl Van Roy, R-Green Bay; Robin Vos, R-Racine; Amy Vruwink, D-Milladore; Leah Vukmir, R-Wauwatosa; Annette Williams, D-Milwaukee; Mary Williams, R-Medford; Jeffrey Wood, I-Chetek; Leon Young, D-Milwaukee; Josh Zepnick, D-Milwaukee; Ted Zigmunt, D-Francis Creek; Rich Zipperer, R-Pewaukee.