By Quinn Fitzgerald
INDIANAPOLIS – Circuit court judges in Marion County make nearly $30,000 more a year than the governor of Indiana.
Sen. Randall Head, R-Logansport, wants to change that and give the governor and some other state officials a raise.
Sen. Randy Head, R- Logansport, addresses increasing state officer salaries. Head said the bill would raise the governor’s salary by nearly $30,000 starting in 2018. Photo by Deonta Larkins, TheStatehouseFile.com
“I think the salaries are so low that we drive away talent from both parties,” Head, the bill’s author, said during a hearing on the bill before the Civil Law committee, which he chairs.
Senate Bill 60, if implemented, would make the salary of the governor equal to the annual salary of a circuit court judge in Marion County starting in 2021. The bill would also make the salary of certain state-elected officials equal to 85 percent of the salary of a circuit court judge in Marion County starting in 2018.
Head said Marion County is a good measure, because the salaries are relatively stable from year to year compared to other counties that sometimes pay their judges bonuses.
Head realized the need for the bill after a conversation with Attorney General Curtis Hill, who said he made more money as a prosecuting attorney than he does now in a job that requires him to supervise significantly more people.
As a prosecuting attorney in Elkhart County, Hill made $141,311, and as attorney general, he makes $94,538.
Head said he wants to make sure people are attracted to the position because they want to serve, not because they want to get rich.
“But, we also don’t want the salary to be so low that we drive good and talented people who are otherwise qualified to be good leaders for our state,” Head said.
A suggestion was made to peg the governor’s salary to the pay of the state Supreme Court’s chief justice, which is more than $169,000 a year, according to the National Center for State Courts. Head said he had no problem doing that.
Sen. Aaron Freeman, R-Indianapolis, asked Head for an amendment so that the bill would apply to mayors of cities with at least 600,000 residents in order to “keep everyone on the same level.”
Sen. Greg Taylor, D-Indianapolis, addresses his concerns about state officers salaries. Sen. Randy Head, R-Logansport, held the bill in the Senate Civil Law Committee because he expects other lawmakers to propose changes. Photo by Deonta Larkins, TheStatehouseFile.com
Head is reluctant to do so because mayors get paid by their units of local government and he would be uncomfortable with telling them what to do if the state is not funding it.
Most of the committee, including Head, agreed to hold the bill another week for discussion on amendments, except for Sen. Greg Taylor, D-Indianapolis, who worries that delaying the bill for too long will kill it.
“I want this bill heard. I say I would move the bill,” Taylor said.
Quinn Fitzgerald is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.