Senate panel kills big raises for some officials

DENVER — The governor and all other statewide elected officials would have seen a substantial increase in pay under a bill killed in a Senate committee Monday.

Under SB274, the governor’s $90,000-a-year salary would have equaled what the chief justice of the Colorado Supreme Court is to make in 2015, when the bill would go into effect.

That pay would be $147,845, a 64 percent increase over what Gov. John Hickenlooper makes today.

The salary for the lieutenant governor would have gone up, too, along with the secretary of state and state treasurer, but by a much higher percentage.

The three make $68,500 a year, but they would have received 86 percent more than that — $127,497 — under the measure, tying their pay to be equal to that of county judges in the state’s largest counties, such as Mesa County.

At the same time, the attorney general’s pay would have gone from $80,000 a year to more than $142,000, making it equal to the chief judge of the Colorado Court of Appeals. That’s a nearly 78 percent hike.

“Only the states of Maine, Arkansas and Alabama pay their governor less than Colorado,” said Sen. Pat Steadman, D-Denver, who introduced the bill. “The same is true across the board at lieutenant governor, treasurer or secretary of state. We’re always at the absolute bottom of the barrel. Something’s wrong when our top executive officials are not being adequately compensated.”

Steadman’s fellow Democrats on the House State, Veterans & Military Affairs Committee didn’t agree and killed the bill on a 3–2 vote, saying now wasn’t the time to raise their salaries.

The increase would have gone into effect in January 2015, after next year’s elections for all five offices.

The last time pay was increased for the five constitutional offices was in 1999. As a result, the governor doesn’t make as much as members of his Cabinet. Each makes, on average, $145,000 a year. Even Hickenlooper’s press secretary, Eric Brown, makes more than his boss. He earns $120,000 a year.

The bill also called for automatic pay hikes for the five offices every four years to be commensurate with the judicial salaries.



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