Bill would give raises to governor, attorney general

2013-02-14T03:05:00Z Bill would give raises to governor, attorney generalBy JoANNE YOUNG / Lincoln Journal Star JournalStar.com

No one spoke for it. No one spoke against it.

Nevertheless, Lincoln Sen. Bill Avery, chairman of the Legislature's Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee, saw it was about that time when the Legislature reviews the pay for the state's constitutional officers. 

He introduced a bill (LB217) that would raise the salaries of the governor, attorney general, secretary of state, lieutenant governor and other elected officials.

If debated and passed, by the time it would go into effect -- Jan. 8, 2015 -- those constitutional offices would have gone eight years without a raise.

He said it's up to the Legislature to periodically review salaries for adjustment, and senators usually do it every four to eight years.

Eight years is a long time to go without a pay increase, Avery said. And if the bill is not passed now, it could be well past 2015 before it is revisited, he said.

The proposed salaries would be:

* Member of the Public Service Commission, the salary would go from $75,000 to $90,000;

* Governor, the salary would go from $105,000 to $126,000, national average $131,000;

* Attorney general, from $95,000 to $114,000, national average $118,600;

* Secretary of state, from $85,000 to $102,000, national average $103,500;

* Auditor of public accounts, from $85,000 to $102,000, national average $114,700;

* State treasurer, from $85,000 to $102,000, national average $106,000;

* Lieutenant governor, from $75,000 to $90,000, national average $88,500.

The increases would be 20 percent. All but the proposed increase for the lieutenant governor would be lower than the national averages for those positions.

Twenty percent raises are not outrageous, compared to past increases, Avery said.

Pay increases for state workers during the same time period would be about 16 percent, he said.

Sen. Russ Karpisek of Wilber asked Avery if the mood of the public on its vote in November on proposed salary increases for senators in the Legislature should be taken into consideration. 

A constitutional amendment to raise the salary of members of the Legislature from $12,000 to $22,500 was defeated on a vote of 513,230 against and to 236,566 in favor.

That change in salaries required a constitutional amendment. The change for constitutional officers would not.

Avery said that many times a proposal to raise senators' salaries does not generate a campaign. That makes a big difference, he said.

"In order for a constitutional amendment to succeed, you generally have to have an apparently powerful argument behind it that doesn't have to be articulated, or you need an aggressive and vigorous campaign for it," he said.

But the public mood does have to be considered, he said.

"And my office has been getting some rather interesting phone calls," he said, "not necessarily friendly."

Reach JoAnne Young at 402-473-7228 or jyoung@journalstar.com -- You can follow JoAnne's tweets at twitter.com/ljslegislature.

Copyright 2015 JournalStar.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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