State senators are responsible for representing the interests of the citizens in their district when considering legislation for the state. Their job is to improve the lives of their constituents. As elected officials, state senators are paid servants of the people, but their salaries vary greatly. Senators in Idaho, for example, were paid $16,438, while senators earned as much as $90,526 in California in 2014.
The job of a state senator is to create and pass legislation that will benefit the citizens of his or her district, as well as the entire state. To do this, state senators must work within their committees and form relationships with senators who have different political views. Negotiating is a major part of a state senator's job. They must debate and persuade other senators to support or oppose particular legislation.
State senators represent small populations of citizens compared with U.S. senators, and much of their job consists of responding to constituents' needs. Many voters contact their state senators to request they vote a certain way for legislation or simply to vent their frustrations. As an elected official, the state senator must reply to the needs of the voters and keep them satisfied. Some provide monthly or quarterly newsletters to the voters in their district.
A large part of the job of a state senator is getting elected, which means that senators must spend a great deal of time meeting with constituents and attending fundraisers. Although their constituency is smaller than U.S. senators, state senators generally must rely on donors to pay for television and print advertisements. State senators who wish to advance within their political party must also raise funds on behalf of other party members at the state and federal level, and sometimes in other districts.
In addition to their role as negotiators within the state legislature, senators must act in a managerial role to oversee staff and advisers. State senators who participate in committees must oversee other committee members as well as contractors responsible for projects within a senator's district. Public works projects, construction, and sign placements are jobs that may require the attention of a state senator.
State senators must work diligently to make their mark because many states, including Illinois and Massachusetts, have two-year terms, leaving little time to show voters their success. Most states place no limits on how many times a state senator may serve. Oklahoma, however, only allows senators to serve three four-year terms while California allows two four-year terms for state senators.