State Senate not interested in blocking legislative pay raise


The Alaska House of Representatives could vote this week or next on a bill that would block a 67% pay raise for state legislators and a 20% raise for the governor and top members of the executive branch.

Passage of the bill is anticipated — multiple members of the House Republican-led majority coalition and Democratic-led minority have already expressed their support of the idea — but leading members of the Senate said the idea is dead on arrival when it crosses the building and arrives in their chamber.

Under state law, the raises will go ahead unless the Legislature passes (and the governor approves) a bill rejecting them by mid-May. A lack of action means the raises would automatically come into effect on July 1 for the governor and department commissioners and next January for lawmakers.

“I think it’s a past issue right now,” Senate President Gary Stevens of Kodiak said on March 28.

Stevens and other top senators have said they believe the raises are necessary to help the executive branch hire competent officials to run departments and to make it possible for not-wealthy Alaskans to afford to serve in the Legislature.

“Frankly, that issue needed to be addressed,” said Sitka Sen. Bert Stedman, a supporter of the increases and co-chair of the Senate Finance Committee.

Various members of the House, and some members of the Senate, have objected to the raises, citing the state’s expected budget deficit. But even if the House passes the bill that would block the raises, several senators don’t expect the measure to advance in the Senate.

“It’s not going to happen,” Stedman said.

Because any bill with a financial cost must go through the Finance Committee, being the committee’s co-chair is a powerful position.

Legislative salaries would go from $50,000 to $84,000 a year, plus a daily living allowance when lawmakers are in session.

The wage increases were recommended by a five-member salary commission appointed by Gov. Mike Dunleavy. The governor had fired the commission members who declined to recommend a pay boost for legislators and appointed all new members, who met on 48-hour notice to adopt the recommendations in a 15-minute meeting.

The governor’s salary will increase by 21% from $145,000 per year to $176,000. Department commissioners’ salaries will increase by 20% since their last raise in 2015, from just over $140,000 to $168,000.

The Alaska Beacon is an independent, donor-funded news organization.


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