Republican leaders in the Virginia Senate have raised the salary of the female clerk of the chamber to bring it in line with her male counterpart in the House, who was earning about $19,000 a year more even though she has been on the job far longer.
The pay discrepancy was brought to light during the General Assembly session when Senate Majority Leader Thomas K. Norment Jr., R-James City, filed a budget amendment to give Senate Clerk Susan Clarke Schaar a raise.
After 27 years as head clerk, Schaar was earning $175,392. G. Paul Nardo, clerk of the House and keeper of the rolls of the commonwealth, was earning $194,341 after less than six years on the job.
The budget gives the Senate Rules Committee and House Speaker William J. Howell, R-Stafford, the ability to establish salary ranges for the clerk in their chamber.
Howell used that provision of the law to help bump Nardo’s salary from $157,540 when he was elected in 2011 to its current $194,341.
Norment wanted the General Assembly this year to give Schaar a comparable salary and to make the state budget accurately list the two clerk salaries, because their salaries listed in the budget were outdated.
His move led to debate among lawmakers about equal pay; several male House lawmakers said Nardo had a larger workload than Schaar — something Norment disputed.
“I just think that she’s entitled to be compensated at the same level as the clerk of the House. She’s been here 30 years,” Norment said in January.
The Senate Rules Committee, chaired by Sen. Ryan T. McDougle, R-Hanover, and Norment recently authorized a raise for Schaar. Her salary now is $195,500.
Schaar said she’s satisfied with the resolution.
In 2015, the median earnings for women in Virginia were 78 percent that of men, according to the American Association of University Women. Pay gaps for women of color are even wider.