A brief timeline:
- In January, the State Officer Compensation Commission submitted a report which recommended salary increases for the Governor, Lt. Governor, and executive department heads; allowing 60 days for the legislature to reject its recommendation.
- On March 6, the Legislature unanimously passed Senate Bill 86, rejecting the compensation commission’s recommended pay increases.
- Early last week, the Governor replaced all members of the commission, and the new commission voted to amend the report to include legislative pay raises, at which point the governor vetoed SB 86 giving the legislature until March 25 to override the veto.
Legislative Legal Services has advised legislators that in light of these unprecedented actions of the State Officer Compensation Commission, legislation is the surest path to nullify pay raises. In addition to blocking legislative pay raises, the legislation directs the Department of Administration to expedite classification studies to ensure salaries and benefits for front-line state employees are competitive to recruit and retain employees.
“We do need to regularly adjust compensation levels for everyone, but we should focus on supporting police, teachers, and other front-line public servants before funding pay increases for high-level executives and the Legislature,” said Rep. Donna Mears (D-Anchorage).
“The most pressing issue facing our state is not increasing legislative pay,” said Rep. Maxine Dibert (D-Downtown Fairbanks). “I am determined to fight for an increase to the BSA to ensure Alaska’s educators and students have the support they need to thrive in our public education system.”
“This process stinks to high heaven,” said Rep. Cliff Groh (D-Anchorage). “I’m in support of increasing the BSA, providing a decent retirement system for public employees, and fixing Alaska’s massive structural deficit.”
Representatives Mears, Dibert, and Groh’s legislation is in the process of being drafted by Legislative Legal Services and will be read across the House Floor at the earliest opportunity.