With the Alaska State Officers Compensation Commission generating a lot of drama between the Governor’s Office, the Senate, and House this legislative session, the House Majority found some improvements that could be made to the process so that the game of hot-potato isn’t repeated in the future.
House Bill 140 is a policy bill offered by the Rules Committee to improve the journey that compensation changes take as they are occasionally calculated for the Legislature, commissioners, governor and lieutenant governor. The bill is set for its first hearing in House State Affairs on Thursday at 3 pm.
The tweaks are intended to bring more transparency and less drama to the compensation commission process. One change would be that the commission would meet only once every two years. Any changes recommended would not take effect until the next Legislature is seated. And some of the timing and deadlines for the commission’s meetings and reports are changed. The commission’s salary review, for example, would need to start by Nov. 1, rather than Nov. 15, so the legislature would have more time to review and respond.
Current statute says the commission can’t start prior to Nov. 15 on any year and has to have the recommendations within the first 10 days of session. The Legislature must take any action within 60 days of receipt of the report. HB 140, as introduced, says the commission has 30 days to submit a report and the Legislature has 90 days to act.
Earlier this month, the state salary commission recommended a 67% pay raise for legislators, and a 20% pay raises for the governor, along with raises for the cabinet, whose members are often paid less than the people who report to them. It all happened quickly after the governor had replace five members of the compensation commission. The commission that had been seated earlier had recommended no pay increases.
Legislators have not had a pay increase since 2010, and are making just $50,400 per year. The governor makes less actual dollars than Gov. Mike Stepovich made in 1960. Stepovich made $25,000 a year. Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s salary is $145,000, nearly $100,000 less than what it would be if the original governor’s salary set at statehood kept up with inflation.