OLYMPIA – A state salary-setting board voted Wednesday to give Washington lawmakers a raise along with the governor and several other state officials.
The Washington Citizens’ Commission on Salaries for Elected Officials gave final approval to the increases it first proposed in January.
That includes an 11.2 percent raise over two years to bring the salaries of lawmakers who aren’t in leadership up to $46,839 a year, the first raise for the part-time Legislature since 2008, the News Tribune of Tacoma reported.
“We thought there was some catching up to do,” board member Melissa Albert said after the 10-5 vote. “We don’t want to have a Legislature made up of only people who are independently wealthy.”
The salary increases will take effect incrementally over the next two years, with the first partial increase occurring in September unless someone collects more than 123,000 signatures of voters in the next 90 days to put a referendum on the ballot.
The raises have been contentious among teachers and state employees since the board proposed them in January because they are larger than raises under consideration in the Legislature for the state workforce. Teachers and state employees unsuccessfully lobbied the commission to scale back the lawmaker salary increases.
The raises for statewide elected officials over two years range from more than 4 percent for the governor, attorney general, secretary of state and auditor to more than 12 percent for the state treasurer. The governor’s salary as of Sept. 1, 2016, will be $173,617, and the attorney general’s pay will increase to $159,395.
No one is currently drawing the auditor’s salary, which stands to rise to $121,663. Indicted Auditor Troy Kelley has taken an unpaid leave of absence.
The commission was created in 1986 by a constitutional amendment to set the pay for statewide elected officials, judges and legislators.
Other changes adopted by commission include:
• Pay for the speaker of the House and the Senate majority leader increases $5,632 to $55,738; the minority leaders in each chamber will see their pay rise $5,182 to $51,288.
• Pay for state Supreme Court justices goes up $10,490 to $167,505. The chief justice’s salary increases $13,130 to $185,661.
• Pay for Court of Appeals judges goes up $9,986 to $174,224.
• Pay for Superior Court judges goes up $9,507 to $165,870.
• Pay for District Court judges goes up $9,052 to $157,933.
• Lt. Gov. Brad Owen’s salary increases $4,889 to $101,889.
• Treasurer Jim McIntire’s pay goes up $15,438 to $140,438.
• Lands Commissioner Peter Goldmark’s pay goes up $8,808 to $132,858.
• State schools chief Randy Dorn’s pay goes up $6,440 to $134,212.
Lawmaker’s salaries as set by the commission don’t include the daily stipend lawmakers collect on top of their pay when they’re in session and special session.
Last year, the Senate and House increased their daily stipend – known as a per diem – from $90 to $120.
Most lawmakers aren’t on campus during the current special session because only a handful of them are negotiating the budget behind closed doors. However, all lawmakers can claim the per diem even if they’re not on campus, and a few have, though many only put in for it while they’re at the Capitol, and a few even forego it altogether.
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