The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

March 10, 2013

Pay increases urged for top state officials

(Continued)

ST. PAUL —

“We are not saying that we are competing nationally for our governors, for we recognize this is a political office,” the council writes in its draft recommendations. “The point is that other states have recognized the value of this office in managing a multibillion dollar enterprise and, as a result, these other states have increased the salary paid for those serving in these critical positions.”

But the chief executive’s pay has a bearing on what those who work under him earn. Commissioners of state agencies are capped at 95 percent of what the governor makes. Under the plan, they would be eligible for paychecks that far exceed that of their boss. Going forward, commissioners could earn up to 133 percent of the governor’s salary.

The state attorney general, auditor and secretary of state also earn a set percentage of the governor’s wage, which differs by office. A pay hike for the governor would mean one for them as well.

As part of the proposal, state judges would see a more immediate pay increase, with their varying salaries rising 4 percent annually for the next four years beginning in July. Data gathered by the council shows judges make barely more than new associates at leading law firms and less than the prosecutors who argue cases before them. Judicial pay increases have been adopted more readily than recommendations for other posts.

Tom Fraser, chairman of the council, said in an interview that the state risks missing out on top executives if it doesn’t adjust its pay scale.

“It will always be true that government will pay less than the private sector as a general rule, and that’s to be expected,” Fraser said. “When the differential is so great that it is difficult to recruit and keep people, that’s a problem.”

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