State lawmakers from the Shoals have mixed opinions on whether or they'll accept the cost-of-living raises they're allowed this year.
Rep. Marcel Black, D-Tuscumbia, said he hasn't decided what he'll do. In previous years he's accepted the raise and then donated it to charity.
Sen. Roger Bedford, D-Russellville, also is undecided about the 2.1 percent increase that works out to about $90 more a month. Lawmakers have until early April to make up their minds.
"I've turned them down, I've taken them and I've given to charity," Bedford said about previous raises.
Sen. Tammy Irons, D-Florence, said she's not taking it.
The representative from Florence, Greg Burdine, also a Democrat, is taking it.
"That's just the deal we have," he said. "Everything we get, I feel like we're earning down there."
Starting after the 2014 elections, lawmakers will have a new pay structure that ties salaries to the state median household income, which was $40,474 in 2010. The Constitutional amendment approved by voters last year was a reaction to public criticism when legislators, led by Democrats, raised their pay by about 61 percent to $49,500 in 2007. The 61 percent raise included a provision for annual raises in future years equal to the federal Consumer Price Index.
Rep. Lynn Greer, R-Rogersville, said he's declined the raise because lawmakers already are paid enough.
"I just didn't think, with (state employees) not getting one in five years, we should take one," he said. Greer makes $30,000 after declining various pay increases.
Rep. Johnny Mack Morrow, D-Red Bay, said Friday that between the recent passage of the Accountability Act and the veto of his Franklin County school safety bill, he hasn't thought much about the raise.
A bill from Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, to extend to five the number of years farmers have to claim up to $10,000 in tax credits for installing irrigation systems is now before the governor.
Orr cited a study that concluded that during drought conditions last year, north Alabama farmers were harvesting about 55 bushels of corn per acre, down from 140 to 150 bushels expected under better conditions.
"If we had some irrigation in the critical weeks, the yields would have been around 200 bushels per acre," he said.
Last year, lawmakers approved a one-time tax credit that will reimburse farmers 20 percent, up to $10,000, for installing an irrigation system. That includes digging a well or building a reservoir to capture water during rainy winters and springs. Orr sponsored that bill as well.
He said the tax credit is a $2 million to $5 million investment by the state, which could result in up to $120 million in revenue for the education trust fund over 20 years.
"Hopefully it will be a good thing that leads to enhanced revenue for the state in years to come and gets us caught up with our neighbors."
Alabama farmers irrigate about 130,000 acres of farmland. Georgia irrigates 10 times that amount.
Mary Sell can be reached at mary.sell@TimesDaily.com.