March 20, 2014 in Idaho

Idaho House trims back raises for top officials

By The Spokesman-Review
 

BOISE – The Idaho House has balked at proposed raises for top state elected officials for the next four years, trimming them back to 1.5 percent a year instead of 2.5 percent.

“That is a number that would enjoy support on the House floor,” said House Speaker Scott Bedke, R-Oakley. “I think the amendments reflect what I heard from the caucus.”

State employees are getting average 2 percent merit-based raises next year, with half of that as a permanent increase, and half as one-time bonuses.

The Senate already had passed SB 1395, calling for the larger boosts for top elected officials; as the Legislature was pushing to wrap up this year’s session today – a day ahead of schedule – lawmakers had to scramble to amend the bill, pass it as amended, and get it back to the Senate for reconsideration all within a single day. They did so, and the amended bill then passed the Senate unanimously.

The amendments still keep in place larger boosts next year for Idaho’s lieutenant governor and attorney general. Leaders from both houses crafted those raises to tie the Attorney General’s salary to that of district judges, and to boost a $35,700 lieutenant governor salary that reflected assumptions that the job was part-time, when it’s closer to full-time.

According to the Council of State Governments, Idaho’s lieutenant governor salary ranked second-lowest in the nation last year; Washington’s lieutenant governor made $93,348.

In a hastily called House State Affairs Committee meeting just after the House’s morning floor session today, members voted unanimously in favor of amending the Senate bill.

Under the amendments, the governor’s salary would rise next year from the current $119,000 to $120,785, a 1.5 percent increase, and bump up another 1.5 percent in each of the next three years, to hit $126,302 on Jan. 1, 2018.

The Secretary of State, state controller, state treasurer and state superintendent of schools all would see 1.5 percent raises next year as well, from the current $101,150 to $102,667, with additional 1.5 percent boosts the following three years.

The lieutenant governor would keep the bigger boost next year that the Senate-passed bill envisioned, rising 19.6 percent from the current $35,700 to $42,275, but in subsequent years, that salary would increase just 1.5 percent a year instead of 2.5 percent.

The amendments don’t change the proposed salary for the Attorney General, which would rise next year to the salary of a district judge, $124,000, a 16 percent increase, and then stay frozen at that level through the end of the four-year term.

“Yes, that makes the attorney general for a year or two earn more than the governor,” Bedke told the committee.

Last year, Idaho’s salary for its attorney general was the 13th lowest in the nation; Washington’s attorney general was paid $151,718.


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