House may give future governors 46% raise

Posted: Friday, April 29, 2005

State House leaders have moved to raise the governor's pay by 46 percent, to $125,000 a year.

The proposal, which now goes to the House for a vote, wouldn't be effective until after the next election for governor in 2006. It would also raise the pay of state commissioners and the lieutenant governor.

Gov. Frank Murkowski, who hasn't said if he will run for re-election in 2006, said he doesn't want a raise anyway.

"I would not accept it as long as I was governor of this state," he said.

The Republican governor said there are other benefits to the job, like living in the governor's mansion. But he said he wouldn't blame a subsequent governor, who might have kids to put through school, for accepting the pay raise.

The proposal, offered by Anchorage Republican Rep. Norm Rokeberg, would increase the governor's salary from $85,766 to $125,000. The salary for the next lieutenant governor's term would also go up, from $80,040 to $100,000 under the plan.

The measure would also raise the pay for state commissioners from $91,200 to $97,092. Future commissioners could get hired at between $84,040 and $124,752 a year.

Rokeberg said some deputy commissioners, because they've long worked for the state, make more than the commissioners they work for. That causes problems with trying to promote deputies - they might have to take a pay cut - and with recruitment, he said.

Rokeberg said Alaska's governor is now paid less than any other Western governor. The average is about $113,000 a year, he said.

On Wednesday he proposed in the Rules Committee, which he chairs, to give Alaska's governor $115,000 a year. But House Speaker John Harris, R-Valdez, said that would still leave the governor potentially making less than commissioners who work for him. The committee then passed the amendment to set the governor's salary at $125,000 a year.

That would put Alaska's governor fifth in pay among Western governors.

House Minority Leader Ethan Berkowitz, D-Anchorage, said: "I would rather put the governor on some kind of bonus system. If you do the job well then you get paid well, if you don't then you don't."



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