Montana state government salary

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State Information

This page describes the compensation, salaries and benefits that Montana's public employees receive from state and local government.

State executive salaries

See also: Compensation of state executive officers
State executive salaries[1]
Office '10 salary Current official
Governor $100,121[2] Steve Bullock
Lieutenant Governor $79,007 John E. Walsh
Secretary of State $79,129 Linda McCulloch
Attorney General $89,602 Tim Fox

As of 2008, the salary of Montana's governor ranked 42nd 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.[3]

Legislator salaries

See also: Comparison of state legislative salaries

As of 2010, Montana state legislators earned $82.64 per day.[4] As of 2012, legislators also received a per diem of $105.31 per day.[5]

Legislators are not allowed to hold multiple government jobs while in office. House Bill 145 would make this more restrictive by prohibiting a legislator from being employed by local, federal, judicial or a state agency while in office or from being an independent contractor.[6]

Judicial salaries

See also: State court budgets and judicial salaries
Montana judicial salaries[7]
Position '09 salary Current justice
Chief Justice $115,160 Mike McGrath
Associate Justice $113,964 Laurie McKinnon
Associate Justice $113,964 Beth Baker
Associate Justice $113,964 Patricia O'Brien Cotter
Associate Justice $113,964 James Rice
Associate Justice $113,964 Michael E. Wheat
Associate Justice $113,964 Brian Morris

As of 2010, the salary of Montana's chief justice ranked 50th 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.[7]

As of 2010, the salaries of Montana's associate justices ranked 50th 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.[7]

State and local employees

According to 2008 U.S. Census data, the state of Montana and local governments in the state employed a total of 79,153 people.[8] Of those employees, 46,560 were full-time employees receiving net pay of $161,277,671 per month and 23,534 were part-time employees paid $19,716,027 per month.[8] Nearly 50% of those employees, or 39,280 employees, were in education or higher education.[8]

Gov. Brian Schweitzer's administration and three major state employee unions, including the Montana Public Employees Association and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (MEA-MFT), tentatively agreed to a 4 percent raise during the 2012-2013 biennium for state public employees.[9] The raises were expected to cost the state $21.6 million if approved by the Montana Legislature.[10]

Teachers salaries

Teacher salaries are determined by local school districts through locally developed bargaining procedures.

Teacher salaries[11]
Beginning teacher salary Average salary
$24,685 $44,426

The student-to-teacher ratio in the 2005-2006 school year was 14:1, compared to the national ratio of 16:2. In the 2004-2005 school year the ratio was 14:3, compared to the national average of 15:8.[12]

According to the American Federation of Teachers, Montana ranked 44th in the nation for average teacher salary for the 2006-2007 school year. In the 2006-2007 school year the average teacher salary was $41,146, a 3.3% increase from 2005-2006. Montana ranked 45th in beginning teacher salaries - $27,134, a 4.3% increase from 2005-2006.[13]

School year Average annual teacher salary Average beginning teacher salary
2006-2007 $41,146[13] $27,134[13]
2005-2006 $39,788[13] $25,967[13]
2004-2005 $38,485[14] $25,318[14]
2003-2004 $37,184[15] $24,032[15]
2002-2003 $35,697[15] $23,095[15]

Census workers

Ten Montana census workers attended a "lessons learned" meeting in Vegas, incurring $90,000 in total expenses.[16]

State employee benefits


Montana has developed a comprehensive group insurance benefits program, including medical plan options with prescription drug and vision exam coverage, dental plan, an employee assistance program (EAP), life insurance options, flexible spending account options and long-term care insurance. The current state contribution covers the cost of the employee's "core" medical, dental and basic life insurance; an employee may obtain optional coverage for his or her self or eligible dependents at additional costs.[17]


See also: Montana public pensions

There is no mandatory retirement age for state employees. Membership in the Montana Public Employees' Retirement System (PERS) is mandatory for most state employees and begins on the first day of employment. Mandatory contributions to PERS are tax deferred and may not be refunded for any reason before termination of covered employment.[18] Employees contribute 6.9% of their salaries.[19] The state contributes 7.035% of the employee's salary.[19]

The state's deferred compensation program is a voluntary supplemental retirement program authorized by Internal Revenue Codes and Montana law. The program allows employees to defer, through payroll deduction, specified amounts of current income before state or federal taxes are calculated. The amount deferred, and any resulting investment income, is not taxable until the employee begins receiving the money, usually at retirement.[20]

During the BP oil spill in 2010, Montana made $92,000 buying and selling BP stock, which contributed to 6/100ths of 1 percent of the Montana pension plan.[21]

New employees earn 15 days of vacation, 12 sick days and 10-11 holidays (depending on election cycle).[22] Employees who have been employed by the state for longer than 10 years can earn 18 days of vacation per year; vacation time increases with length of service up to 24 days of vacation earned per year.[23] Part-time employees earn time on a prorated basis.[23]

State employees receive the follow paid holidays:[24]

  • New Year's Day
  • Martin Luther King Day
  • Lincoln's and Washington's Birthday
  • Memorial Day
  • Independence Day
  • Labor Day
  • Columbus Day
  • Veteran's Day
  • Thanksgiving Day
  • Christmas Day
  • State General Election Day

Unused vacation leave

Annual leave accrual is tied to the length of employment, but caps at 384 for the longest tenured employees, who are then paid out at a full hourly rate when they leave their job.[25] There is not a cap for sick leave, which may be accumulated and is paid out at 25 percent of the accumulated at the employee's current hourly rate.[25]

In 2010, 13,000 public employees accrued funds through unused sick and vacation leave. The top 10 employees had a combined 3,200 hours of sick leave, and two employees expected pay outs of $82,000 and almost $70,000.[25]

Additional reading

External links


  1. The Council of States Governments The Book of States 2010 Table 4.11
  2. The Council of State Governments The Book of States 2010 Table 4.3
  3. ‘‘The Council of State Governments,’’ “The Book of the States: 2008” (dead link)
  4. National Conference of State Legislators 2010 Legislator Compensation Data
  5. NCSL, 2012 Compensation Data," accessed June12, 2012
  6. Montana Watchdog, Bill to prohibit lawmakers from taking state jobs to be revised, Jan. 13, 2011
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 The National Center for State Courts, "Judicial Salary Resource Center" as of Jan. 1, 2010
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 2008 Montana Public Employment U.S. Census Data
  9. Montana Watchdog, State employees make case for higher pay to House committee, Jan. 31, 2011
  10. Montana Watchdog, Governor, unions propose plan for 4 percent raise in 2012-2013, Nov. 10, 2010
  11. [2011-01-01T00%3A00%3A00Z%20TO%202012-01-01T00%3A00%3A00Z
  12. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named MTFacts
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 13.4 American Federation of Teachers, "Montana Ranks 44th in the nation for the teacher pay," accessed November 11, 2009
  14. 14.0 14.1 American Federation of Teachers, "Montana ranks 43rd in the nation for the teacher pay," March 29, 2007
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 American Federation of Teachers, "Montana ranks 45th in the nation for the teacher pay," October 6, 2005
  16. Watchdog, 10 Census workers from Montana attend $90,000 Vegas meeting, Sept. 28, 2010
  17. Health and Life Insurance (dead link)
  18. Retirement (dead link)
  19. 19.0 19.1 [1]
  20. Deferred Compensation (dead link)
  21. Montana Watchdog, State reports profit in sale of some BP stock, investment official says, July 23, 2010
  22. Salary and Benefits Overview Information (dead link)
  23. 23.0 23.1 Vacation (dead link)
  24. Holidays (dead link)
  25. 25.0 25.1 25.2 Watchdog, Looming payouts raise questions about Montana unused time off policy, Oct. 25, 2010