After a report by the Cherokee Nation Compensation Committee last week recommended pay increases for the tribe's administration and Tribal Council, Councilors David Walkingstick, Shawn Crittenden, and Dick Lay introduced legislation to block the raises.
Now, the Tribal Council will have to decide during a Rules Committee Meeting on Monday, July 15, whether the changes will go into effect. The compensation proposal would up the principal chief's salary to $350,000, an 84 percent increase; the deputy chief's to $233,000, a 104 percent increase; the speaker's to $95,000, a 26 percent increase; and the deputy speaker's salary to $90,000. Meanwhile, tribal councilors would received nearly a 35 percent increase to $85,000.
Walkingstick, Lay, and Crittenden introduced a legislative act titled "No Pay Raise for Elected Officials Act of 2019," which would keep the elected officials from receiving pay raises beginning in August.
Walkingstick released the following statement: "So it begins - during a time when Cherokee Nation employees are underpaid and crucial services are underfunded, a board of appointed officials has voted to give drastic pay raises to political elites. Rather than increasing the pay of our doctors (140 of whom have left in the past eight years), pharmacists, and other Cherokee Nation employees, the Cherokee Nation Compensation Committee has opted to give pay increases upwards of $100,000 to our highest paid officials, even doubling the salary of our deputy chief. Cherokee citizens should be deeply disturbed by this action and demand accountability from our elected officials. The Cherokee Nation Tribal Council has the opportunity to negate or renegotiate these pay increases at our upcoming meeting on July 16."
Tribal councilors will meet for the Rules Committee meeting at 11 a.m. on Monday, in the tribal council offices. A full agenda of the meeting can be found at cherokee.legistar.com.