In order to follow up my post from yesterday about the political donations of the lawyers who work for the General Assembly, I requested and received from the speaker’s office the data that Providence Journal reporter Katherine Gregg used for her article directing attention to the group.
- In total, there are 56 lawyers on the list.
- Only 14 are listed as full-time employees, working 35 hours per week.
- The other 42 are listed as working 0.6-time, which is 21 hours — just enough to be eligible for health benefits.
- All of the employees have a comp-time system, so if they work extra hours during the legislature’s busy season, they can work less during the rest of the year, although they lose any comp-time hours they don’t use by the end of the year.
- Only six of the 56 lawyers do not take the health benefit.
- Only two of the 56 lawyers do not take the dental and vision benefits.
- A majority, 37, appear to have family plans (judged by the listed cost of the benefits).
- Part-time employees pay 20% of the cost of their health plans, which amounts to $165-$184 for every two-week pay period.
Given that the hours of most of these employees are set just high enough to trigger benefits and that so many of them take them, it’s reasonable to infer that the benefit is a significant reason they take the job. The allowance of comp time can turn this into a seasonal job, which is very convenient for lawyers who have their own practices. (A cynic might wonder how closely their hourly activity is tracked.)
From the taxpayer’s point of view, however, it isn’t clear why the state wouldn’t hire more full-time employees for year-round work and then use contractors for seasonal work, or limit the part-timers to 19 hours.