It's the year of raises at the Idaho Capitol and just about everyone is getting them after years of going without.
On Tuesday, the House Judiciary, Rules and Administration Committee approved 2 percent raises for state-funded judges and justices, their first pay hike in four years. Earlier in the day, the House approved 2 percent pay hikes for oversight commissioners at several government agencies, including the Industrial Commission and the State Tax Commission.
The 2 percent pay hike is in line with what the legislative budget committee has given to all state workers. Pay hikes for judges and Idaho Supreme Court justices require legislative action, or so said the court's top administrator, Patti Tobias.
Tobias told committee members the pay raise is a "first step in moving forward" for appropriate judicial pay.
Overall, the pay hike will cost taxpayers $371,000 next year.
Judges and justices , some of the highest-paid government officials before the proposed raises, will see at least $2,000 more next year. Idaho Supreme Court justices would see $121,900 in wages next year, up from $119,505. District judge pay would jump from $112,043 to $114,300 under the plan.
Rep. Pete Nielsen, R-Mountain Home, attempted to derail the bill, but his maneuver was rejected on a 3-10 vote. Nielsen said he would like to see a citizen commission handle judicial pay.
Rep. Phil Hart, R-Athol, joked that he hates sticking up for lawyers, but voiced his support of the raises. "We'll get what we pay for," hart said. "It's money well-spent."
The measure heads to the House floor for consideration, where it could face staunch opposition from a cadre of conservatives who've opposed pay raises for state workers, not agreeing with the method of appropriation. Some of the most conservative lawmakers want raises doled out on merit, not simply time on the job.
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