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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Spin Control

Which state employees were the highest paid last year?

OLYMPIA – The University of Washington beat Washington State University in last year’s Apple Cup, and Husky head coach Chris Petersen’s team finished with a better record than Mike Leach’s Cougars.

But Leach was still ahead in one category: He topped the list of salaries received by state employees last year, at $2.75 million. Peterson came in second at $2.686 million, according to the latest salary information on all state employees.

Leach and Peterson don’t get their paychecks from taxpayers. Athletic salaries at both universities come from ticket sales and television revenues, but it’s funneled through the state. So the two football coaches, as usual, top the list of state salaries, followed by Husky basketball coach Lorenzo Romar at $1.13 million and WSU coach Ernie Kent at $1.05 million. Their total compensation packages in their contracts also may include things like insurance and pensions which aren't reflected in the state database. 

Scott Woodward, Husky athletic director, was fifth at almost $719,000. The late Elson Floyd, WSU president, was the highest paid non-athletic employee on the list. His $689,000 salary sandwiched him between Woodward and WSU athletic director Bill Moos.

The Top 10 slots are occupied by employees of one of the two research universities, and only one person in the top 100 is not connected to one of the two universities. That’s Gary Bruebaker, the chief investment officer for the state investment board, who comes in at $509,000. Board salaries aren’t paid by taxpayers, either, but from net investment earnings; they’re set based on a survey of other funds, so the state can attract investment professionals.

Many top-paid university employees are researchers whose work is supported by government or industry grants, and don’t come from tax funds or tuition. Like the athletic salaries, that money is channeled through the state and captured in the annual salary list. The grants often provide more to the institution or the state than just the researcher's salary.

Men are far more likely to be in the top salary ranks than women. Of the 36 state employees who make more than $400,000, seven are women, led by Johnese Spisso, a vice president at UW.

The salary figures are for 2014, so this year Spisso might be passed by Ana Marie Cauci, who was UW provost last year but was named interim president after Michael Young resigned in February to take a similar post at Texas A & M. Young made $600,750 last year in base salary; he’ll make a reported $1 million his first year at A&M.

Among the top 100 salaries – that’s just above $312,000 this year –19 went to women.

Among elected officials, the nine members of the state Supreme Court are the highest paid. They’re in a nine-way tie for 1,487th place with salaries of $169,188. That puts them a bit ahead of Gov. Jay Inslee, who makes $166,881, settling him in 1,557th place.

Salaries for state employees are public record, and published online by the state Office of Financial Management every year. For a database of state employee salaries – searchable by name or department – for the last four years, click here.



Jim Camden
Jim Camden joined The Spokesman-Review in 1981. He is currently the political reporter and state government reporter in the newspaper's Olympia bureau office.

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