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Senate Bill 1436 — Judicial compensation (-2)

Senate Bill 1436 — Judicial compensation (-2)

Parrish Miller
March 21, 2024

Bill Description: Senate Bill 1436 would increase judges' salaries by up to 10% plus an additional 5% in each of the following three fiscal years. The bill would also establish a Citizens’ Committee on Judicial Compensation to decide future compensation increases. 

Rating: -2

NOTE: Senate Bill 1436 deals with judicial compensation, as does House Bill 713. While the House bill proposes reasonable compensation increases, the Senate bill proposes excessive and unmerited increases. 

Does it increase government spending (for objectionable purposes) or debt? Conversely, does it decrease government spending or debt?

The proposed statewide change in employee compensation (CEC) for FY 2025 is up to 3%, which is based on a 1% across-the-board increase plus an additional 2% merit-based raise. House Bill 713 proposes a similar increase in compensation for judges. 

Senate Bill 1436 does something else entirely, heavily amending Section 59-502, Idaho Code, to increase the annual salary of the justices of the Supreme Court from $165,212 to $181,733. This is a 10% increase. 

The bill also changes the pay scale for appeals court judges, district judges, and magistrate judges to a percentage-based reduction. Their pay, currently based on a fixed-dollar reduction from the pay for Supreme Court justices, is based on a fraction of the pay given to members of the Supreme Court. This works out to pay increases of 9.8%, 8.2%, and 7.9% respectively for the lower court judges. 

Under this bill, all judges would receive 5% pay increases in fiscal years 2026, 2027, and 2028. This means that over this 4-year period, Idaho State Supreme Court justices would receive a 27.3% increase in compensation. 

This increase is not justified by inflation or by the CEC awarded to other state employees. 

The fiscal note for Senate Bill 1436 estimates the total cost of these salary increases over the next four years at more than $8 million. 


Does it create, expand, or enlarge any agency, board, program, function, or activity of government? Conversely, does it eliminate or curtail the size or scope of government?

Senate Bill 1436 would create sections 59-502A and 59-502B, Idaho Code, to establish the citizens' committee on judicial compensation in 2027. The committee would have authority to set compensation rates for judges and justices. 

The committee would have three members appointed by the governor and three members appointed by the Legislature. 

The Legislature would only be able to override the committee's decision by concurrent resolution before  the twenty-fifth legislative day of the session following the committee's decision.

Under current law, judges’ and justices’ salaries do not increase unless both chambers of the Legislature agree. Under this bill, the committee’s recommendations (which will inevitably call for salary increases) will go into effect unless both chambers of the Legislature affirmatively reject them.


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