Minden Press-Herald

Oct 01st

Pay raise for judges, sheriffs passes

BATON ROUGE — Louisiana's judges and parish sheriffs are getting pay raises.

With a 29-7 vote, the Senate gave final passage Tuesday to a bill outlining five years of pay raises for judges. Sheriffs can get the salary hikes, too, because a law allows them to get the same raises as district court judges.

Gov. Bobby Jindal said he'll sign the bill by Sen. Danny Martiny, R-Kenner, along with similar pay bumps for parish clerks of court and local tax assessors that had already received final legislative passage.

Supporters said the judges haven't had a raise since 2010, and they said the pay schedule was recommended by an independent commission that reviews judges' salaries and compares them to other states.

Critics say the pay hikes are inappropriate since rank-and-file state workers haven't received raises in years because of ongoing state budget problems.

Shortly after the Senate passed the pay raise bill, the House gave final passage to a $168 million judicial budget that includes the new $2.5 million to cover the costs of the salary increases in the upcoming 2013-14 fiscal year that begins July 1.

House members bristled that senators added the dollars to the judicial budget after telling the House Appropriations Committee that the pay raise would be absorbed in the budget, without suggesting they'd add new funding.

"I feel like we were misled," said Rep. John Schroder, R-Covington.

The House voted 62-30 to send the budget bill to Jindal.

Supreme Court justices will receive a 5.5 percent pay increase on July 1, with appeal court judges getting a 3.7 percent boost and district court judges receiving a 4 percent increase. After that, every July from 2014 through 2017, all three sets of judges — along with city and parish court judges — will get a 2.1 percent annual bump in pay.

By 2017, Supreme Court justices will make $172,343; appellate court judges, $161,275; and trial court judges $155,279.

The raises will cost the state $8 million over five years.

Sheriffs' pay hikes will be paid out of local funds.






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