File photo

File photo

Pay freeze for Inslee and state lawmakers this year

A citizen panel approved a 1.75% increase for executives, legislators and justices 17 months from now.

Gov. Jay Inslee will not get a raise this year. Neither will state lawmakers, Supreme Court justices or statewide executives like the attorney general and secretary of state.

In 2022 they will.

A citizen salary-setting panel voted Wednesday to forgo pay hikes this July for the state’s executive, legislative and judicial branches due to continuing economic uncertainty wrought by the pandemic.

Then the independent commission approved a 1.75% wage hike effective July 1, 2022, for all positions in the three branches of government.

Commissioners expressed optimism that the economy would be improving by then and they wanted to prevent the pay scale of Washington’s elected officials from falling too far behind counterparts across the country.

The decisions mean Inslee’s annual salary, currently $187,353, will rise to $190,632. Lawmakers who now earn $56,881 will make $57,876. The House speaker and Senate majority leader, along with minority leaders in each chamber, receive an added stipend for their leadership responsibilities.

With next year’s increase, Attorney General Bob Ferguson will earn $175,274, Secretary of State Kim Wyman $136,996 and Chief Justice Steven Gonzales $227,410.

Adjustments to the level of pay of elected members of the three branches are considered every two years by the Washington Citizens’ Commission on Salaries for Elected Officials. Members include a resident randomly selected from each of the state’s 10 congressional districts, plus representatives from business, organized labor, higher education, the legal world and human resources. In all, there are 17 members.

Voters established the commission in 1987 to stop politicians from deciding their own pay. Commissioners are supposed to base decisions on the duties of the job — not the man or woman doing it at the time. They can check out what other states pay for similar posts. They don’t have to give raises, but they cannot lower the salary of anyone in office.

Two years ago, the panel boosted the base pay of elected positions and, on top of that, added a cost-of-living adjustment for 2019 and 2020. That resulted in the governor and legislators getting raises last July when state employees got furloughs and hundreds of thousands of workers were jobless because restrictions, ordered by Inslee to arrest the spread of coronavirus, forced businesses to scale back or shut down.

Until Wednesday, commissioners were on course to impose no increases for two years to assess the effects of the pandemic on the economy and state budget.

But Wednesday they received updates which show the state’s tax receipts stabilizing, with expectations of growth in the next two-year budget.

That gave nine members enough confidence to approve the 1.75% increase — after the panel rejected hikes of 3% and 2%.

“I think it is reasonable. I think it is fair,” said Commissioner Anastasia Potapova, who backed the higher increases. She said she felt Washington officials are underpaid compared to their peers and the commission needs to do what it can to help them catch up.

Commissioner Diane Gale echoed the sentiment. “If salaries are low now and we stop them for two years from now,” we’ll be in worse shape, she said.

Giving a “modicum of a raise” would be nice, but if it is too big it “is not going to look very well” to the populous, cautioned Commissioner Jon Bridge.

Gary Ratterree, the commission vice chairman, opposed increases because the impact of the pandemic on the economy is too cloudy.

”I am really concerned about the uncertainty in the data in the forecast,” he said.

The salary schedule will take effect 90 days after its recording with the Secretary of State’s Office.

The pay hikes are subject to repeal by referendum. To force a statewide vote requires someone to file a petition with the secretary of state, then collect and turn in the signatures of 162,258 registered voters. The deadline is based on when the schedule is filed.


In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@valleyrecord.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.valleyrecord.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

More in News

File photo
North Bend City Hall. Courtesy of northbendwa.gov
North Bend approves sewer rate increases

A 2.5% annual sewer rate increase was approved March 2 by the… Continue reading

Freshwater variety of kokanee salmon from Lake Sammamish. File photo
Encouraging numbers for kokanee salmon spawn count

Lake Sammamish kokanee aren’t out of the woods by any stretch, but… Continue reading

One of the letters Snoqualmie teen Savonnah Mitchell sent out to across the U.S. Mitchell sent a letter to one random house in each state in July. Contributed by Savonnah Mitchell
Snoqualmie teen sends letters of hope across the country

Savonnah Mitchell sent out letters to one address in every state, inspiring others to pass it on.

In this file photo, Tayshon Cottrell dons his graduation cap and gown, along with a face mask reading: “Wear it! Save America” at Todd Beamer High School’s virtual graduation walk recording on May 20, 2020, in Federal Way. Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing
Law gives Washington high school seniors leeway to graduate

Gov. Jay Inslee signed a bill that can waive some requirements for students who were on track before the pandemic.

File photo
Study shows Washingtonians exceeded ‘heavy drinking’ threshold in 2020

The survey suggests Washingtonians drank more than 17 alcoholic beverages a week on average.

Mercer Island School District first-graders returned to in-person classes on Jan. 19, 2021. Here, Northwood Elementary School students head into the building. Photo courtesy of the Mercer Island School District
Governor: Educators are now eligible for coronavirus vaccine

“This should give educators more confidence,” Jay Inslee said. Other frontline workers could soon be next.

Malden, after a wildfire burned down 80% of the town’s buildings in Eastern Washington. Courtesy photo
DNR commissioner seeks $125 million to fight wildfires

In Washington state last September, some 600,000 acres burned within 72 hours.

Teaser
New Fall City Fire Chief is on the job

Chief Brian Culp started in the position at the beginning of February.

Most Read