Governor, legislators receive significant pay raise following resignations

Published: Mar. 21, 2023 at 9:35 AM AKDT
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JUNEAU, Alaska (KTUU) - The governor and members of the state legislature will be receiving a significant pay raise after all five members of the State Officers Compensation Commission left and were replaced last week.

The commission is established to determine the salaries of the Alaska governor, lieutenant governor, heads of each department and all members of the state legislature, but after the commission’s salary recommendations — submitted on Jan. 24 that included a raise for the governor but not for state legislators — were roundly rejected by the legislature, all five members of the commission were replaced.

The state of Alaska website says the compensation commission is composed of members appointed by the governor, with one of the five coming on the recommendation of the Senate president and one coming on the recommendation of the Speaker of the House of Representatives.

The new commission — appointed by Gov. Mike Dunleavy and the state Senate last week — elected a head Chair to the commission after previous Chair Kurt Olson resigned.

The new commission voted in the salary changes on Wednesday, which include the following increases:

  • An annual salary of $84,000 for legislators, up from $50,400
  • An annual salary of $176,000 for the governor, up from $145,000
  • An annual salary of $140,000 for the lieutenant governor, up from $125,000
  • An annual salary of $168,000 for state department heads, up from $141,160.50

The commission report stated that the pay raises were done to keep up with the cost of inflation, which it claimed was approximately 2% per year.

Dunleavy’s Deputy Director of Communications Jeff Turner wrote in an email that lawmakers rejected the initial recommendations because they did not address compensation for legislators.

“Alaska’s 15 state commissioners are all leaders in their career fields and can receive higher salaries in the private sector. They serve out of a strong sense of duty and public service,” Turner wrote. “To continue attracting the best and brightest Alaskans to manage state departments, Governor Dunleavy believes salary increases for commissioners that offset the impact of inflation are appropriate.

“Governor Dunleavy did not run for governor for the paycheck, and neither will the governor who succeeds him. But even the Governor of Alaska needs to earn a living and the salary adjustment is the first for the governor since 2011.”