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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Eye On Olympia

No raises, thanks, most elected officials say. But new schools chief says the $121k salary’s not enough to draw top-tier candidates…

Yesterday and today, the state commission that sets salaries for elected officials has been meeting at a hotel in downtown Olympia.

So far, most of the politicians who've testified have said there should be no raises over the next two years, seeing as how Gov. Chris Gregoire has proposed no cost-of-living increases for state workers and teachers.

One exception: newly elected state school superintendent Randy Dorn.

Dorn, who's trying to hire staff for his office now, this morning stopped short of explicitly calling for more money. But he strongly hinted that the $121,000-a-year salary isn't enough to keep attracting top talent to the public position.

By comparison, he said, 121 of the school superintendents across Washington are paid more than he is. The top 20 or so make considerably more -- $200,000 or more, he said.

As he tries to hire people, he said, he's finding that school district administrators typically are paid 15 percent to 25 percent more than the state pays school administators in his office. 

Dorn said he personally took a $25,000 pay cut to become state school superintendent. (He was the head of a union representing public school support staff.)

He said he knew that when he chose to run. But he said his employer was unusual in letting him keep his job while campaigning nearly full time. Most employers wouldn't, he said. And that's especially true for the top-rank pool of school superintendents. Why would they give up a year of their life to campaign, Dorn said, "and then take a $75,000 cut in pay?"

"How do you get quality people into the position? I think you're going to have to make it more attractive than it is," he said.

Short takes and breaking news from the Washington Legislature and the state capital.