Washington Citizens' Commission on Salaries for Elected Officials

 

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Frequently Asked Questions

How, When, and Why was the Commission Established?

We were created in 1986 by the passage of House Joint Resolution 49, the 78th amendment to the State Constitution. The purpose of the referendum was to establish an independent citizen commission to set the salaries of the state’s elected officials and to remove politics from the process. The Commission began its work in February 1987.

 

What does the Commission do?

We set the salaries of the state’s elected officials.

 

Executive Branch – Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of State, Treasurer, Auditor, Attorney General, Commissioner of Public Lands, Superintendent of Public Instruction, and Insurance Commissioner.

Legislative Branch – Members of the Legislature.

Judicial Branch – Justices of the Supreme Court and judges of the Court of Appeals, Superior Court, and District Court.

 

What is the Salary of the Elected Officials?

Position

Salary

9/1/13 - 8/31/14

Executive Branch

Governor

166,891

Lieutenant Governor

97,000

Secretary of State

116,950

Treasurer

125,000

Auditor

116,950

Attorney General

151,718

Insurance Commissioner

116,950

Superintendent of Public Instruction

124,050

Commissioner of Public Lands

124,050

Judicial Branch

Supreme Court Justices

167,505

Court of Appeals Judges

159,455

Superior Court Judges

151,363

District Court Judges

144,544

Legislative Branch

Legislators

42,106

Speaker of the House

50,106

Senate Majority Leader

50,106

House Minority Leader

46,106

Senate Minority Leader

46,106

 

  

How and When Does the Salary Setting Process Happen?

We conduct our salary setting work every other year in the odd-numbered year.

 

We will begin the next salary setting process at a public meeting in Olympia early in 2015. At that meeting and as we are required to do, we will adopt a salary proposal for 2015 and 2016 that will be on the table for pubic review and comment. Two public meetings on the proposal will be held to obtain public comment and input. At the last public meeting, a final 2015-16 salary schedule will be adopted. Our meeting schedule for 2015 will be posted on www.salaries.wa.gov in November 2014.

 

How Can People Get Involved?

You can be involved in the process by:

 

Attending one of the public meetings and making your views known;

Sending a letter, email, or fax; or by

Calling our toll-free number.

 

See our contact information on the last page.

 

Are there Salary Setting Requirements?

Yes, state law directs us to attract citizens of the highest quality to public service by:

 

Establishing appropriate salaries for the elected officials’ positions;

Basing salaries on realistic standards; and

Paying the elected officials according to the duties of their office.

 

Do You Consider the Performance of the Elected Officials?

No, that is left to the voters.

 

Can Salaries be Cut or Frozen?

We cannot cut salaries. The Constitution forbids us from reducing or cutting the salary of an elected official during their term of office. However, they can be frozen at current levels.

 

Can the Salary Schedule be Overturned or Changed after it is Adopted?

Yes and No. After the salary schedule has been adopted, filed with the Secretary of State, and the 90-day referendum period has passed, neither the Governor, the Legislature, nor the Commission can change it. Only the public has that authority during the 90-day referendum process. 

 

What Benefits do the Elected Officials Receive?

They receive many of the same benefits as do state employees and teachers such as health care coverage and membership in the state retirement system. We have no jurisdiction over their benefits.

 

Is Legislator Per Diem Included in their Salary?

No, per diem is a stipend to cover legislators’ expenses during session. The amount is set by the House and Senate. Legislative per diem is common in legislatures across the country.

 

What Sources Do You Rely on for Data?

National comparisons – we use recognized sources such as the Council of State Governments, the National Conference of State Legislatures, and the National Center for State Courts. In addition, staff obtains data from other states’ websites and telephone calls.

In-state comparisons of public positions – information is obtained from sources such as the state Department of Personnel, Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, Administrative Office of the Courts, University of Washington, Public Ports Association, State Board for Community and Technical Colleges, the educational service districts, and the Council of Presidents of Washington Universities. We also utilize the Washington Association of Cities’ annual Salary and Benefit Survey of city and county government positions.

Studies – we utilize the recommendations of Willis Point-Factor Analysis studies that evaluate the duties and responsibilities of the elected officials. These studies provide factual and objective data upon which to base salaries.

Input and Testimony by the Elected Officials – we receive position descriptions and hear testimony by the elected officials regarding the duties and responsibilities of their positions.

 

Can the Public Access this Data?

Yes, it is posted on our website at www.salaries.wa.gov, click on Salary Information.

 

What Factors are Considered in Making Salary Decisions?

The salaries of like positions in other states and in the 14 states that are considered to be most comparable to Washington;

The salaries of in-state, similar public positions;

For judges, the salaries of judges on the federal bench;

The duties and responsibilities required of each office;

Willis Point-Factor Evaluations;

Gubernatorial and legislative proposals for state employee salaries;

Economic and budget data and salary and wage trends;

Presentations by compensation experts;

Comments and input from the public; and

Other factors considered to be reasonable and appropriate.

 

Is the Economic and Political Environment Considered?

Yes, economic and budget forecasts, conditions, and data are considered but not politics are not.

How Many People are on the Commission and How are They Selected?

Seventeen unpaid citizens serve on the Commission. They are appointed in two ways:

 

The Secretary of State selects ten members by a random drawing of registered voters, one from each Congressional District. 

Seven are jointly selected by the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate from specific fields of expertise.

 

Who is on the Commission?

Commissioner

Selected From

Michele Adams, Chair *

Congressional District #1

Rose Amurao *

State Personnel Resources Board

Matthew Clark *

Congressional District #8

James Currin Congressional District #7
Gregory Dallaire Legal Profession

Suzanne Dinning *

Congressional District #3

Liz Heath *

Professional Personnel Management

Lynda Henderson

Congressional District #6

Erin John

Congressional District #9

Ned Lange *

Private Higher Education

Larry Lanning

Congressional District #5

Robert Mendez *

Congressional District #4

D. Kathe Morris *

Congressional District #2

Leslie Santana Congressional District #10

Dick Walter, Vice-Chair *

Business

Justine Winnie Organized Labor
Vacant Public Higher Education

*Term ends June 30, 2014

 

How Can I Contact You or Get More Information?

Feel free to call, write, telephone, fax, or e-mail us at:

 

Commission on Salaries for Elected Officials

PO Box 43120

Olympia, WA  98504-3210

Email:  TWright@salaries.wa.gov

Toll Free:  1-866-809-8116 or 360-725-5669

Fax:  360-586-7544

 

Visit our website at www.salaries.wa.gov or subscribe to our electronic information system at http://listserv.wa.gov, click on WCCSEO.