JEFFERSON CITY - Judges, legislators and all statewide elected officials should receive a substantial pay raise in the next two years if the recommendations of a citizen's compensation commission are followed.
The Missouri Citizens' Commission on Compensation for Elected Officials recommended a 5.5 percent raise in fiscal years 2002 and 2003 for all elected officials. The commission reported that it recommended a standard salary adjustment because all officials face the same financial issues.
"First just the general cost of living that faces every person that they deal with and second is that for state employees we have been trying to raise salaries to the marketplace, kind of one increment at a time," said Mark Reading, the assistant director for budget.
The commission's recommendations will automatically be accepted February 1, unless rejected by both chambers of the legislature. Rejection has occurred regularly in the past.
Senate Appropriations Chairman Sen. Wayne Goode, D-St. Louis County, said the commission's recommendations haven't had much weight in the past because its salary proposals were significantly out of line with the salaries of other state employees. But Goode said this proposal would probably receive a better hearing.
"This recommendation is more reasonable and more in line with what we've been doing with salaries in general," he said.
State salaries in general have been slowly increasing in recent years as part of an effort to make them competitive with private sector compensation. According to Reading, the Missouri plans to have state employee salaries up to market level within five to eight years.
Reading said the 5.5 percent raise took into account a 3.5 percent cost of living adjustment, and used the two to four percent pay raises received by other state employees in recent years as a guide.
With a 5.5 percent increase the governor would receive a $13,561 raise, bringing his salary to $133,543 by 2003. the salaries for state senators and representatives would increase by $3,532 to $34,778. The salary of the highest paid state elected official, the Chief Justice of the Missouri Supreme Court, would increase by $16,402 for a total salary of $139,402.
The 22 member commission was partially comprised of private citizens and government appointees.