Pay freeze for Inslee, lawmakers this year; pay hike in 2022

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

OLYMPIA — 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.

Reporter Jerry Cornfield: jcornfield@heraldnet.com | @dospueblos

Talk to us

More in Local News

Paul McElhany points out how far the new building will extend past the current building at Northwest Fisheries Science Center's Mukilteo Research Station on Tuesday, April 23, 2019 in Mukilteo, Wash. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Oh, crab! NOAA’s Mukilteo waterfront fish lab won’t be rebuilt

Bids for a new Northwest Fisheries Science Center research station are too high. Are condos next?

Snohomish County Sheriff Adam Fortney during an interview at the sheriff’s department June 17, 2020. (Sue Misao / The Herald)
Auditor denies Fortney recall group the extra time it seeks

He said he could extend the deadline for signature gathering if ordered by a court or the Governor.

State Patrol worker from Everett charged with attempted child rape

Trevor Smith worked as a commercial vehicle enforcement officer assigned inspecting school buses.

A pre-loaded syringe with the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine sits on the table for the next person in line during a vaccine clinic as South Pointe Assisted Living on Friday, Feb. 12, 2021 in Everett, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Snohomish County to receive its largest shipment of vaccines

Even as case counts drop, researchers are finding a growing number of COVID variants in the state.

Austin Johnson, 26 years-old, trains on the Centennial Trail in Lake Stevens and is planning to do a 24-hour run to raise money for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
24 hours, 80 miles, $23k raised for mental health

Austin Johnson completes a 24-hour run along the Centennial Trail to raise money for suicide prevention.

Everett man identified after being found dead in creek

The cause of death for Renee Baltazar Romero remained under investigation Thursday.

Everett man found dead in creek near Lake Stevens

The man, 28, was reported missing Thursday. A neighbor found his body in Little Pilchuck Creek.

Autopsy shows Lake Stevens woman, 20, drowned Saturday

Anna M. Lopez was swimming when witnesses noticed she was not responsive, according to officials.

Joe Hempel swims off of the shore of Seawall Park on Friday, Jan. 29, 2021 in Langley, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Scantily clad is the dress code for these cold rush swimmers

Immersed for 30 minutes in frigid water would kill most of us. It energizes these swimmers.

Most Read