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Arizona representative proposes changes to state executive compensation structure

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January 25, 2012

By Lauren Rodgers

Arizona

Phoenix, AZ: According to the Sunshine Review, in 2009 the Chief Justice of the Arizona Supreme Court was paid an estimated $160,000 (and was the 21st highest paid U.S. chief justice).[1] In 2010, the Governor of Arizona received $95,000 in salary and compensation,[2] making the Grand Canyon State's chief executive the 44th highest paid governor in the nation.

In fact, Gov. Jan Brewer made less money in 2010 than six other state executive officials in her administration:

  1. Commissioner of Lands: $131,500
  2. Auditor: $128,785
  3. Director of the Industrial Commission: $126,069
  4. Comptroller: $117,702
  5. Insurance Commissioner: $115,650
  6. Director of Agriculture: $102,260

A recent bill introduced in the Arizona House of Representatives seeks to change the current compensation structure. Jack Harper (R - Surprise) is the sole sponsor of House Bill 2078, granting a $65,000 raise to the governor and increasing the salaries of the secretary of state, attorney general, treasurer, and the superintendent of public instruction, putting them all in the $85,000 - $160,000 range.

In a report released by Ballotpedia in August 2011, we compared the compensation for state executive officials across the nation. The figures displayed in the chart below are taken from that report, and offer both a regional and national context for Arizona's current and proposed salaries (to take effect January 1, 2013).

Compensation of Arizona state executive officers
Office Salary in 2010 Proposed salary under HB 2078[3] Average salary for Western region Highest in nation
Governor $95,000 $160,000 $118,705 $179,000 (NY)
Secretary of State $70,000 $95,000 $93,588 $180,000 (TN)
Attorney General $90,000 $99,000 $112,508 $168,003 (AL)
Treasurer $70,000 $95,000 $97,602 $180,000 (TN)
Superintendent $85,000 $95,000 $130,357 $341,458 (LA)

Under Article 5, Section 12 of the state constitution, the salaries of state executive officials may be changed by a committee established by the state legislature. The commission "shall be composed of five members appointed from private life, two of whom shall be appointed by the governor and one each by the president of the senate, the speaker of the house of representatives, and the chief justice."[4] Traditionally, the commission recommends pay makers to lawmakers, but it has not recommended any increases in state government salaries since 2008.[5]

Critics of the bill have accused Harper of using the legislation to improve his position in the event he runs for a state executive office in 2014. He announced earlier this week that he will not seek election to another term in the state House, but "has indicated a desire to run for the state's Secretary of State's office in the future."[6]

See also

References

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