State officials get pay raise in January
Because of a five-year-old law tying elected state officials’ salaries to classified worker raises, every elected official in state government will get a 6 percent pay raise effective Jan. 1.
Director of Administration Andrew Clinger said existing law mandates that the six constitutional officers and lawmakers get raises equal to those given state classified employees during the previous four years. State workers received 2 percent in July 2007 and another 4 percent in July 2008.
At the same time, the state constitution says no elected official’s salary may be increased or decreased during his term in office.
“They take office in January and we can’t pass a law until February at the earliest so they’re in the middle of their new term,” said Clinger. “You can’t change their salary in the middle of a new term.”
He said state payroll must add the raises to the checks of every elected official from the governor to members of the Assembly.
Those elected officials can, however, choose to return the cash to the state or donate it to a charity if they wish. All six constitutional officers returned or donated amounts equal to 4.6 percent of their pay since the furloughs were implemented to match the reductions suffered by state workers over the past two years, according to the controller’s office. A spokesman said letters are going out to those officials telling them how they can do the same with the 6 percent raises if they choose.
In the case of Gov.-elect Brian Sandoval, the raises increase his pay more than $8,500 a year to $149,573. Clinger said Sandoval has already advised him he will be returning that increase to the state treasury.
Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto’s pay would rise from $133,000 to $141,086. Secretary of State Ross Miller, Treasurer Kate Marshall and Controller Kim Wallin would all see increases from $97,000 to $102,898 and Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki from $60,000 to $63,648.
The raises also increase pay for members of the Nevada Legislature. Assembly members and senators will increase from $130 a day to $146.29 effective with the start of the 2011 session. Legislators, it should be noted, only receive salaries for the first 60 days of each regular session.
Clinger said his office put in a bill during the 2009 Legislative session to change the law and prevent elected officials from getting raises this January.
SB420 was heard in the Senate Finance Committee May 12 and again May 18. Deputy Budget Director Stephanie Day testified the bill would defer the January 2011 increase so that constitutional officers beginning their terms that date would take the same pay reductions imposed on other state workers. During the hearing, Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, said he would oppose the bill unless current constitutional officers also took the cuts. No action was taken and the measure died in the committee.
“They could have done something about it two years ago and they didn’t,” said Clinger. “They can’t do it now.”