Colorado state government salary

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State Information

Colorado state government salaries for state employees were frozen for three years, from FY2010 to FY2012. The FY2012 state budget, which took effect on July 1, 2011, gave no raises to state employees, marking the third year in a row that employees salaries remained the same. For the second year in a row, state workers were required to contribute a greater portion of their paychecks to their retirement.[1]

According to 2008 U.S. Census data, the state of Colorado and local governments in the state employed a total of 320,650 people. Of those employees, 227,729 were full-time employees receiving net wages of $971,010,148 per month and 92,921 were part-time employees paid $113,456,631 per month. More than 56% of those employees, or 180,041 employees, were in education or higher education.[2]

In 2007-08, the average base salary for a state employee was $4,161 per month, which is equal to $24.01 per hour.[3]

In 2009, the Colorado Association of Public Employees brought a bill to Assistant Majority Leader Sen. Lois Tochtrop seeking to exempt the records of particular employees' pay, and only permit access to aggregated salary information. Tochtrop is sponsored the bill, known as Senate Bill 49.[4]

The Denver Post maintained a searchable database (dead link) of Colorado state employees, along with employees of many of the state universities. Under pressure from state employees, this was removed, and it is stated that obtaining this information is now very difficult.[5]

Legislator salaries

See also: Comparison of state legislative salaries

Colorado state legislators made $30,000 per year as of 2012. Legislators also received a per diem of $45 per day for members in the Denver metro area and $150 per day for members outside of Denver.[6][7]

State executive salaries

See also: Compensation of state executive officers
State government employee salaries[8]
Office '11 salary Official
Governor $90,000[9] John Hickenlooper
Lieutenant Governor / Commissioner of Education $68,500 ($140,000 total)[10] Joe Garcia
Secretary of State $68,500[11] Scott Gessler
Attorney General $80,000[12] John W. Suthers
Treasurer $68,500[13] Walker Stapleton

As of 2008, the salary of Colorado's governor ranked 48th among U.S. governors' salaries. The average salary earned by U.S. governors was $128,735. The median salary earned by U.S. governors was $129,962.[14]

Judicial salaries

See also: State court budgets and judicial salaries
Colorado judicial salaries[15]
Position '09 salary Justice
Chief Justice $142,708 Michael Bender
Associate Justice $139,660 Gregory Hobbs
Associate Justice $139,660 Alex Martinez
Associate Justice $139,660 Monica Marquez
Associate Justice $139,660 Nancy Rice
Associate Justice $139,660 Nathan Coats
Associate Justice $139,660 Allison Eid

As of 2010, the salary of Colorado's chief justice ranked 34th among U.S. chief justices' salaries. The average salary earned by U.S. chief justices was $155,230. The median salary earned by U.S. chief justices was $151,284.[15]

As of 2010, the salary of Colorado's associate justices ranked 33rd among U.S. associate justices' salaries. The average salary earned by U.S. associate justices was $151,142. The median salary earned by U.S. associate justices was $145,984.[15]

Teacher salaries

CEA Local Associations and local school boards negotiate “master agreements” that include, but are not limited to, the terms and conditions of employment for teachers and classified school employees. CEA held that by 2011, the annual salary of a starting teacher (preschool through college/university) should be at least $40,000, and educators with ten years of experience and a Master’s degree plus 30 credit hours should be paid no less than $80,000 annually. CEA argued that all education support professionals should be paid a living wage at a minimum.[16]

Teacher salaries[17]
Beginning teacher salary Average salary
$30,140 $48,487

Colorado teachers participate in Colorado Public Employee Retirement System.


In 2007-08, 38,067 state employees were eligible for benefits.[3]

Sick Leave

State employees have approximately ten days per year of sick leave (6.66 hours earned per month), regardless of service time.[18]


State employees earn ten paid holidays per year.[18]

Bereavement leave

Employees are allowed up to 40 hours at the time of death of a family member or other person if the absence is approved by the appointing authority.[18]

Other leave

  • Jury duty - Permanent employees are granted jury leave for the period they are required to serve. Temporary employees are granted up to three working days when jury duty occurs during days they are normally scheduled to work.
  • Military leave - Granted for permanent employees, the first 15 working days (120 hours) per calendar year are paid; any additional military leave beyond 15 days is unpaid.
  • Administrative leave – Paid leave designed to relieve an employee of official state duties in order to participate in activities determined by the appointing authority to benefit the state.


See also: Colorado public pensions

State contributions are provided for the basic retirement plan choices offered by the Public Employer Retirement Association. Employees choose between a defined benefit plan or defined contribution plan. For 2010, the state contribution per month was 13.85% of gross salary following any Section 125 salary reduction.[18]

In 2010, the state reduced a 3.5% annual pension increase to 2%, concluding that this was the fastest way to revive its pension fund, which was projected to run out of money by 2029. The retirees have sued to block the reduction.[19]

Colorado was the first state to impose pension cuts on its current employees, not just future employees. Most states do not do so because officials presume that they are legally bound to shield current workers from pension cuts. A Colorado Supreme Court ruling from 1961 held that pension cuts for current workers were allowed if “actuarially necessary,” and the state planned to contend that the ruling also applies to retirees.[19]


Health insurance The state contribution for medical and dental insurance is a fixed amount regardless of the plan selected, and the contribution amount is not prorated for part-time employees.

Employer monthly contribution

Insurance Employee Only Employee + Spouse Employee + Child(ren) Employee + Spouse + Child(ren)
Medical $350.66 $592.54 $627.10 $868.98
Dental $20.72 $33.86 $35.72 $48.86

Life/accidental death and dismemberment insurance

State-paid basic life insurance for all permanent, benefit-eligible employees is $50,000, and the state-paid premium is $9.40 per month per employee.[18]

Disability coverage Short-term disability coverage is fully paid by the state and pays up to 60% of pre-disability earnings for up to 150 days following the required 30-day waiting period. Long-term disability coverage can be purchased by the employee.[18]

Other benefits

  • Flexible Spending Account - Pre-tax health premium, dependent care and health care flexible spending accounts
  • State Employee Assistance Program - a professional assessment, referral and short-term counseling service
  • Commuter Choice Program - pre-tax salary payroll deductions for rapid transit passes and qualified monthly parking.

Additional reading

External links


  1. The Denver Post "Gov. Hickenlooper inks $18 billion Colorado budget, but some pieces still in play" May 7, 2011
  2. Colorado Public Employment Data
  3. 3.0 3.1 Colorado State Workforce Demographics Report 2007-08
  4. CORA change would mask employee pay, Politics West, January 8, 2009
  5. "Colo. Salaries for Elected Officials. Want To Find Out What They Are? Good Luck.", Expat Exlawyer, March 12, 2010.
  6. National Conference of State Legislators 2010 Legislator Compensation Data
  7. NCSL, 2012 Compensation Data," accessed June12, 2012
  8. The Council of States Governments The Book of States 2010 Table 4.11
  9. Denver Post "Hick: It ain’t about the salary"
  10. Denver Post "Hick: It ain’t about the salary"
  11. Denver post "New Colo. secretary of state wants salaries set by citizen commission"
  12. Denver post "New Colo. secretary of state wants salaries set by citizen commission"
  13. Politics Daily "Colorado Treasurer Moonlights for Up to $150K, and He's Not Alone"
  14. ‘‘The Council of State Governments,’’ “The Book of the States: 2008” (dead link)
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 The National Center for State Courts, "Judicial Salary Resource Center" as of Jan. 1, 2010
  16. Colorado Education Association, Collective Bargaining
  17. [2011-01-01T00%3A00%3A00Z%20TO%202012-01-01T00%3A00%3A00Z
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 18.3 18.4 18.5 State of Colorado 2009 – 2010 Total Compensation Summary (dead link)
  19. 19.0 19.1 The New York Times "In Budget Crisis, States Take Aim at Pension Costs" June 19, 2010