Wisconsin state government salary

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State Information

Wisconsin state government salaries and other state spending information are available through newspapers such as the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and the Appleton Post Crescent, along with other resources.[1][2] The MacIver Institute and Wisconsin Department of Administration provide salary databases and fiscal reports, respectively.[3][4]

According to 2008 U.S. Census data, the state of Wisconsin and local governments in the state employed a total of 379,539 people.[5] Of those employees, 240,747 were full-time employees receiving net pay of $998,312,248 per month and 138,792 were part-time employees paid $123,619,591 per month.[5] More than 57% of those employees, or 218,585 employees, were in education or higher education.[5]

Legislator salaries

See also: Comparison of state legislative salaries

As of 2010, Wisconsin state legislators received an annual salary of $49,943 per year.[6] Legislators received a per diem of $88 per day.[6]

State executive salaries

See also: Compensation of state executive officers
State executive salaries[7]
Office 2010 salary Current official
Governor $137,092[8] Scott Walker
Lieutenant Governor $72,394 Rebecca Kleefisch
Secretary of State $65,079 Douglas Lafollette
Attorney General $133,033 J.B. Van Hollen
Treasurer $65,079 Kurt Schuller

Judicial salaries

See also: State court budgets and judicial salaries
Wisconsin judicial salaries[9]
Position '10 salary Current justice
Chief Justice $152,000 Shirley Abrahamson
Associate Justice $144,495 Ann Walsh Bradley
Associate Justice $144,495 N. Patrick Crooks
Associate Justice $144,495 David Prosser
Associate Justice $144,495 Patience Roggensack
Associate Justice $144,495 Michael Gableman
Associate Justice $144,495 Annette Ziegler

As of 2010, the salary of Wisconsin's chief justice ranked 29th 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.[9]

As of 2010, the salaries of Wisconsin's associate justices ranked 29th 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.[9]

State and local employees

Teacher salaries

Teacher salaries[10]
Beginning teacher salary Average salary
$31,714 $51,121

State employee benefits

Wisconsin describes its employees' fringe benefits as "significant."[11]


The state provides nine legal holidays with pay:[11]:

  • New Year's Day
  • Martin Luther King Jr.'s Birthday
  • Memorial Day
  • Independence Day
  • Labor Day
  • Thanksgiving Day
  • Christmas Eve Day
  • Christmas Day


Vacation is earned by full-time employees at the following rates:[11]:

Years of service Annual vacation hours - Non-exempt Annual vacation hours - Exempt
During first 5 104 120
5+ to 10 144 160
10+ to 15 160 176
15+ to 20 184 200
20+ to 25 200 216
25 and Over 216 216

Personal days

Employees are granted 4.5 days of personal holiday time.[11]

Sick leave

Full-time state employees earn five hours of sick leave each bi-weekly pay period. Unused sick leave accumulates from year to year. The state matches a certain amount of the unused sick leave upon an employee's retirement, and the entire balance is converted at the employee's current hourly rate to pay health insurance premiums.[11]



The state pays an average of $13,972 for health benefits for each state employee. That is higher than the average of $11,539 paid by other Midwestern states.[12]

Public employees pay approximately 12% of the cost of their health insurance.[13] Act 10 increased state employees' contribution to the cost of their health benefits from 4.3% to 12.4%. The law does state a fixed dollar amount for single and family coverage.[12]

The increased contributions reduced the total compensation of state employees by more than $600 a year for those opting for single coverage and by more than $1,440 a year for those opting for family coverage.

A variety of Health Maintenance Organizations, Preferred Provider Plans, and fee-for-service health providers offer coverage.[11] Some dental coverage is included in many of the group health insurance plans and the catastrophic insurance plan.[11]


An employee may have group term life insurance coverage in an amount up to five times his/her annual salary. The state contributes approximately 49% of the premium toward two of the five levels of coverage; however, the premiums for the remaining three levels of coverage are paid totally by the employee. Employees may also secure coverage for their spouses (up to $20,000) and dependents (up to $10,000 each).[11]

Long-term care insurance

Employees have the option of adding long-term care insurance to cover short-term and long-term home health care, assisted living, community-based care, and nursing home care. The plan is available only to state employees and annuitants, including their spouses, parents, and spouse's parents. Employees pay the full premium.[11]


See also: Wisconsin public pensions

Employees are covered immediately under the Wisconsin Retirement System, which is the ninth largest public pension fund in the U.S. and the 28th* largest public or private pension fund in the world.[14] Vested employee-required contributions, approximately 5% of an employee's earnings, are made by the state on behalf of the employee. The state pays another 5-10%, depending upon the employee's occupational status, toward the non-vested employer-required contribution.[11] Starting August 25, 2011, employees would pay half of their retirement contributions.[15]

The Wisconsin Deferred Compensation Program, which is a supplemental retirement savings program authorized under Section 457 of the Internal Revenue Code, is an option for all state employees.[16][17] The program allows eligible employees an opportunity to save pre-tax earnings to supplement retirement income. Under Sec. 457, participants were allowed to defer up to the lesser of 100% of gross income or $16,500 in 2009.[11]

Other benefits

  • The Employee Reimbursement Accounts Program allows employees to pay eligible medical and dependent care expenses from pre-tax rather than post-tax income. In addition, premiums for state group health, catastrophic, and life insurance (excluding spouse and dependent life insurance coverage) may be treated as pre-tax deductions.[11]
  • The Commuter Benefits Program allows employees to save money on their commuting costs by using pre-tax dollars to pay for bus passes, parking expenses, and other mass transit costs.

Local government employees

See also: Wisconsin local government salary

In 2011, Sunshine Review requested salary information from 19 local governments in the state.

Teacher salaries

The average teacher salary for 2008-2009 in Wisconsin was $49,051, while the national average was $53,910.[18]

A searchable database for teacher salaries in Wisconsin is available.[19]

Districts across the state were developing new systems for measuring teacher performance that aim to better distinguish superior educators from those who were average or below par. They would likely use student achievement growth as one measure of performance, and the results of the evaluation might help administrators decide whom to promote, dismiss or provide with more targeted help.[20]

Despite changes in collective bargaining mandated at the state level, Wisconsin Rapids School Board members were willing to meet with the district's teachers to discuss concepts such as school policies, procedures and expectations. Before state legislation restricted many public employee unions' ability to collectively bargain, the district used consensus bargaining, allowing for such discussions as part of negotiations. Consensus bargaining differs from traditional contract negotiations in that both sides work toward developing solutions, rather than having each side present its own desired outcome. Proponents of consensus negotiations say the process allows both sides to approach the deal with more of an open mind.[21]

Public employee union protests

See also: Union protests in Madison, Wisconsin over Gov. Scott Walker's Budget Repair Bill

Protests erupted over a bill that would require state employees to contribute an average of 8% more to their pension and health care costs and the right to collective bargaining.[22] Gov. Walker said that asking employees to pay half the national average for health care "is truly a modest request."[23] Walker denied that his proposal was trying to break the unions, yet there was no fiscal reason to attack collective bargaining.[23][24] The legislature passed the bill and the governor signed the bill into law on March 11, 2011.[25][26]

Provisions of the law

  • Union benefit cuts - State employees were unhappy that they must, under the new law, contribute 5.8% of their salaries toward their pensions, and also pay 12.6% of their health insurance premiums, although it was not clear if Gov. Walker would be contributing to his own pension and health care costs.[27] The move was anticipated to save nearly $300 million over the following two fiscal years.[28]
  • Collective bargaining - The law also eliminated almost all union bargaining rights.[28]

The proposal would strip most state and local workers of collective bargaining rights on everything except salary.[29] Unions would be unable to seek pay increases above those pegged to the Consumer Price Index unless approved by a public referendum.[22]

Employees who would retain their collective bargaining rights are local police, firefighters and state troopers, but only in regards to their wages.[22]

University of Wisconsin faculty had their statutory right to unionize revoked under the Budget Repair Bill, eliminating all collective bargaining rights for faculty at five of the 13 comprehensive campuses: UW-Eau Claire, UW-La Cross, UW-River Falls, UW-Stout, and UW-Superior. This was the first time in U.S. history that a statutory right to collectively bargain has been overturned by a state government.

Passage of the law

To avoid a vote on the measure, 14 Senate Democrats disappeared and could not be found.[30] They reportedly went to a hotel in Illinois.[22] Republicans controled the State Senate by 19 to 14, but to have a vote on fiscal matters, 20 senators must be present.[30] The Senate Democrats, however, stayed away for weeks. The Senate scheduled votes on other bills of interest to Democrats, hoping that they would return to vote on them.[31]

The Assembly passed the bill just after midnight on Feb. 25, 2011 in a fast vote seemingly taken after the Democrats tried to stall the proposal with more than 100 amendments.[32][33] On February 24, 2011, the Assembly reached a deal to limit amendments and debates and appeared to be close to voting on the bill.[34] State troopers were then sent to the homes of the 14 missing Democrats, but they were not found. Democratic Sen. Jon Erpenbach said all 14 senators remained outside of Wisconsin and would not return until Walker was willing to compromise.[34]

On March 9, 2011, the Senate moved to separate the collective bargaining language from the fiscal budget legislation language, because a quorum isn't needed for a non-budgetary bill. The Senate could then vote on the collective bargaining language.[35]

When Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald read the bill to a joint conference committee, Rep. Peter Barca objected, saying the committee's meeting was in violation of the state's open meetings law. The vote was held and the measure was approved.[36]

After the Senate vote, the collective bargaining bill moved back to the Assembly on March 10, 2011, amid intense protests that prevented lawmakers from entering. Capitol police closed the building and removed demonstrators inside who refused to leave and reopened one entrance to the building, allowing lawmakers to enter for the vote.[37] The Assembly passed the bill that afternoon.[38]

Because the bill was not passed by Feb. 26, 2011, a key part of the proposal was lost because a refinancing of state debt that would free up $165 million would be lost if not completed by then. Should that refinancing fall through, more cuts would be needed to balance the budget.[31] A payment on state debt was due by March 15.[32]

School closures

More than 15 school districts, including the Madison schools were closed for four days due to teachers and staff calling in sick.[39][40] Judge Maryann Sumi of the Dane County District Court denied the Madison school district requests for an injunction against Madison Teachers Inc. so that schools could reopen.[39]

See also

External links


  1. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Data on Demand
  2. Appleton Post Crescent DataMine
  3. MacIver Institute
  4. Wisconsin Department of Administration
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 2008 Wisconsin Public Employment U.S. Census Data
  6. 6.0 6.1 National Conference of State Legislators 2010 Legislator Compensation Data
  7. The Council of States Governments The Book of States 2010 Table 4.11
  8. The Council of State Governments The Book of States 2010 Table 4.3
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 The National Center for State Courts, "Judicial Salary Resource Center" as of Jan. 1, 2010
  10. Teacher Salaries
  11. 11.00 11.01 11.02 11.03 11.04 11.05 11.06 11.07 11.08 11.09 11.10 11.11 Benefits
  12. 12.0 12.1 The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel "State employee health benefits cost more than neighboring states, study finds" April 3, 2012
  13. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel "Impact of union measure takes hold" Aug. 22, 2011
  14. State of Wisconsin Investment Board
  15. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel "Impact of union measure takes hold" Aug. 22, 2011
  16. Wisconsin Deferred Compensation Program
  17. Deferred Compensation FAQs
  18. Post Crescent, Watchdog Report: Wisconsin teachers feel budget-cutting pressure, Feb. 13, 2011
  19. Greenbay Press Gazette, DataMine: Search Wisconsin teacher salaries, Sept. 2, 2011
  20. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Districts consider paying teachers based on evaluations, Oct. 24, 2011
  21. Wisconsin Rapids Tribune, School Board willing to meet with teachers before wage negotiations, April 11, 2012
  22. 22.0 22.1 22.2 22.3 MSNBC.com "Wis. union vote on hold after Democrats leave state" Feb. 17, 2011
  23. 23.0 23.1 CBSNews.com "Wis. gov: I took "bold political move" on budget" Feb. 18, 2011
  24. Wall Street Journal, Union Fight Heats Up, Feb. 18, 2011
  25. CNN.com Live: Wisconsin Assembly passes controversial labor bill March 10, 2011
  26. MSNBC.com "Wis. governor officially cuts collective bargaining" March 11, 2011
  27. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named protest
  28. 28.0 28.1 The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel "Budget bill draws a crowd" Feb. 15, 2011
  29. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel "Wis. state workers and allies descend on Madison to protest halt to collective bargaining" Feb. 15, 2011 (dead link)
  30. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named missing
  31. 31.0 31.1 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel "Both sides in Wisconsin budget battle dig in deeper " Feb. 23, 2011
  32. 32.0 32.1 Reuters "Wisconsin Assembly approves plan to curb unions" Feb. 25, 2011
  33. Reuters "In Wisconsin, a jarring new note in discordant debate" Feb. 23, 2011
  34. 34.0 34.1 MSNBC.com "Wis. stalemate: Deal struck, cops sent to Dem homes" Feb. 24, 2011
  35. Fox News "Wisconsin Republicans Plan to Pass Budget Bill Without Democrats, Sources Say" March 9, 2011
  36. MSNBC.com "Wis. GOP votes to push through anti-union bill" March 9, 2011
  37. CNN.com "Wisconsin Capitol re-opens as state Assembly takes up bill" March 10, 2011
  38. CNN.com Live: Wisconsin Assembly passes controversial labor bill March 10, 2011
  39. 39.0 39.1 WKOW.com "MMSD denied temporary restraining order" Feb. 18, 2011
  40. WFRV.com "Madison schools remain closed, Fourth day in a row" Feb. 21, 2011