The Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee set budgets this morning for the governor’s office and the legislative branch, and due to statutory requirements, both of those include salary boosts for elected officials. Specifically, the governor’s salary was required by law to rise from $115,348 to $117,000 on Jan. 1, 2013, and to rise another 1.7 percent on Jan. 1, 2014 to $119,000. The approved budget covers that increase. For state legislators, a citizens committee voted in June to recommend a 2 percent raise, from $16,116 a year to $16,438. That raise took effect in December, and became permanent when the Legislature hadn’t acted to reject it by the 25thday of this year’s legislative session; today is the 52nd day.
The cost of the lawmakers’ base pay increase is $322 per legislator, or $33,810 total. It’s the first raise state lawmakers have gotten since 2007; in 2009, they rejected the citizens committee recommendation for a 5 percent raise. Two years ago, the panel didn’t recommend raises for lawmakers. This year, committee members said the 2 percent boost was warranted; it followed lawmakers’ decision last year to grant 2 percent raises to state employees, their first in four years. For next year, however, Gov. Butch Otter hasn’t recommended funding raises for state employees; JFAC has called on state agencies to find salary savings in their existing budgets to give workers boosts if possible.
The budget that JFAC approved for the Legislature this morning calls for a general-fund transfer of $6.15 million for next year, an increase of 5.2 percent or $303,000 over this year. That's enough to cover the raises and benefit cost increases. It's still 9 percent below the statutorily authorized level for funding the Legislature; it’s up from a 13 percent cut lawmakers imposed several years back.