MKs to Get a Raise, But Not Ministers

YERUSHALAYIM -
The Knesset building in Yerushalayim.

The new Knesset session began Monday, and Knesset members are likely to be in a good mood: Because of the way their pay packages are structured, MKs will get a 3.2 percent increase in salary this year. The pay increase of between NIS 1,300 ($371) and NIS 1,950 ($557), depending on the seniority of an MK, will go into effect on January 1st.

Also getting a raise will be President Reuven Rivlin, whose salary will increase by 2.3 percent, for a monthly total of NIS 62,600 ($17,905) before taxes. Judges in the court system will also get a 2.3 percent salary increase, between NIS 1,000 ($286) and NIS 1,400 ($400), depending on their previous pay level. With this year’s raises, the salaries of MKs and judges will have risen 5.5 percent between January 1, 2016, and January 1, 2018.

On the other hand, the salaries of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, government ministers and deputy ministers, along with Bank of Israel chairperson Karnit Flug, will remain at their current levels. Netanyahu will continue to receive NIS 47,485 ($13,582) per month, while ministers will earn the same NIS 42,534 ($12,166) in 2018 as they earn now. Deputy ministers will continue to receive salaries of NIS 40,525 ($11,593) per month, and Flug will remain at her NIS 63,000 ($18,023) salary.

The reason for the discrepancy between the two groups is that MKs’ contracts call for their salaries to be tied to the average salary in the economy; as the latter rises, so does the salary of MKs, and salaries over the past two years have been on the upswing. The salaries of Netanyahu, the ministers and deputy ministers, and of Flug are tied to the rate of inflation, which has been near zero in recent years. Thus, no raises for them. For the past four years, the Knesset Finance Committee has been seeking to change the contract of MKs so that their raises as well will be based on the inflation rate, but there is little support among MKs for the idea.

Besides salaries, MKs receive a long list of other financial benefits and stipends, including rent assistance, a budget for an office, an assistant, a communications liaison, free hotel rooms in Yerushalayim when the Knesset is in session, a leased vehicle paid for by the taxpayers, educational stipends (such as a stipend for learning foreign languages) and free newspaper subscriptions. All told, the state spends NIS 94 million ($26,891,765) on these benefits.