No raise for governor, citizens’ commission decides

Gov. Jay Inslee isn’t getting a pay raise this year, nor in 2014. But the nine members of the state Supreme Court led by Chief Justice Barbara Madsen will get raises Sept. 1 — and their salaries will rise above even that of the governor.

The Washington Citizens’ Commission on Salaries for Elected Officials finished its biennial job Wednesday, having decided to hold pay for the governor at $166,891. That’s the same rate it’s been since September 2008, shortly before the bottom fell out of the economy.

“It’s appropriate for these times when we’re doing everything we can to balance the budget,” Inslee spokeswoman Jaime Smith said of the commission’s decision to freeze the governor’s pay. “You trust the commission to take into account all the factors in setting the salaries. That’s their job.”

Pay for statewide elected officials, judges and state legislators is set by the citizens commission created by a constitutional amendment in the 1980s. Its decisions are final — and it is not allowed to reduce pay.

The 17 unpaid commissioners include 10 people selected at random from voter registration rolls in each of the state’s congressional districts. The others are chosen to represent business, labor and other interests.

How much elected officials elsewhere are paid for similar work is one factor the commission considers. Its members have worked over the years to raise pay in the judiciary, which faces competition for talent not only from the private sector but also from the federal courts, where pay is much higher.

Under the votes taken by the commission this year, pay for Supreme Court justices goes to $167,505 in September, up from $164,221. It rises to $172,531 in 2014.

Madsen could not be reached immediately for comment.

Also due for a pay raise is longtime Lt. Gov. Brad Owen, who gets a bump of about $3,052 to $97,000. Treasurer Jim McIntire’s pay goes up $8,050 to $125,000, and Lands Commissioner Peter Goldmark’s pay rises from $121,618 to $124,050. State schools chief Randy Dorn’s pay climbs from $121,618 to $124,050 this year and to $127,772 in 2014.

Inslee is not alone in having his pay frozen. Just over half of statewide elected officials are getting no raises this year — including secretary of state (Kim Wyman), auditor (Troy Kelley), insurance commissioner (Mike Kreidler) and attorney general (Bob Ferguson).

Under the commission’s actions, the same pay freeze is in store for legislators The House speaker (Frank Chopp) and Senate majority leader (Rodney Tom) will continue to earn $50,106, while rank-and-file legislators and minority leaders continue to be paid $46,106 plus daily per diems during legislative sessions and other expenses.