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Panel advances pay plan for top state officials

Posted: November 6, 2013 - 2:16pm

JUNEAU — The State Officers Compensation Commission on Wednesday advanced a proposal recommending pay raises for Alaska's governor, lieutenant governor and principal department heads.

The panel also recommended that deputy commissioners who replace commissioners in their departments without a break in service can retain their rate of pay if it's higher than that of commissioner — while serving as commissioner. Such employees also would get any statutory pay increases that went along with their old jobs while serving as commissioner.

Commission member Gordon Harrison said at the Anchorage meeting that it seemed the rationale behind that motion was to not penalize a deputy commissioner for taking the job of commissioner. If the board wants to remove financial disincentives, he said the pay increases should apply.

Currently, two deputy commissioners are acting as commissioners: Angela Rodell in Revenue after Bryan Butcher resigned to join the Alaska Housing Finance Corp., and Joe Balash in Natural Resources, after Dan Sullivan stepped down to run for U.S. Senate.

The commission proposal would raise the governor's salary from $145,000 a year to $150,873. The lieutenant governor's salary would go from $115,000 to $119,658. Each would get another 2.5 percent increase beginning July 1, 2015.

Salaries for the heads of the 14 main state departments, mainly referred to as commissioners, would go from $136,350 to $146,143, with increases of 1 percent beginning July 1, 2014, and 2.5 percent beginning July 1, 2015, in line with an employee compensation bill that passed the last legislature.

The public will have an opportunity to comment on the preliminary recommendations. A final report is due by early in the next legislative session. The director of the state Division of Personnel and Labor Relations has said the increases would be effective July 1, unless a bill disapproving all the recommendations is enacted.

The State Officers Compensation Commission was created to review salaries, benefits and allowances for top office holders and lawmakers. It is not recommending a pay increase for legislators, whose salaries were set at $50,400 after a 2009 recommendation by the commission.

The 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. That was the last time it recommended raises.

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