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Panel proposes pay raises for top state officials

Posted: November 1, 2013 - 5:43am

JUNEAU — The governor, lieutenant governor and other top officeholders in Alaska would receive pay raises under a proposal by the State Officers Compensation Commission.

The commission was created to review salaries, benefits and allowances for the top office holders and lawmakers. It has not proposed a salary increase for legislators.

The panel is scheduled to meet Nov. 6 in Anchorage to finalize its preliminary recommendations, with a public comment period to follow. That report is expected to include the commission’s rationale for the proposed increases. A final report is due during next year’s legislative session.

Nicki Neal, director of the state Division of Personnel and Labor Relations, said by email that the increases would be effective July 1, unless a bill disapproving all the recommendations is enacted.

Under the proposal, the governor’s salary would go from $145,000 a year to $150,873, while the lieutenant governor’s salary would go from $115,000 to $119,658. Neal said there’s the potential for another 2.5 percent raise beginning July 1, 2015.

A spokeswoman for Gov. Sean Parnell, Sharon Leighow, said by email that Parnell did not request the increase but “believes the suggested salary increases are reasonable and he looks forward to the issue being fully vetted in the public through the legislative process.”

A spokeswoman for Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell, Michelle Toohey, said Treadwell believes the state has a big list of needs, including work on rural schools, where the money could be spent. “He said he’s not starving on the wage that he’s getting, and he’s not looking to increase his wealth or get rich while serving either,” she said in an email Thursday.

Salaries for the heads of the 14 main state departments, mostly referred to as commissioners, would go from $136,350 to $146,143, according to information from Neal. An employee compensation bill passed during the last legislature included increases of 1 percent for commissioners beginning July 1, 2014, and 2.5 percent beginning July 1, 2015.

The compensation commission in a January 2011 report recommended increasing the salaries of the governor from $125,000 to $145,000 and the lieutenant governor from $100,000 to $115,000 “to reduce the glaring disparities between these salaries and the salaries of hundreds of higher-paid state employees.” That was the last time the commission recommend raises.

Legislative salaries were set at $50,400 after a 2009 recommendation by the commission.

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