Executive Branch Officials Get Pay Increases Under Governor’s Budget

Drew Wrigley, Jack Dalrymple

Taking a look at Governor Dalrymple’s proposed budgets for the various executive office holders reveals big pay increases. Dalrymple intends for these statewide elected officials to each reap an 11.4% pay increase from 2012 to 2015.

Here’s the specific dollar amounts for each office (you can read the actual bills here, look at HB1001 – HB1010).

Governor: $113,594 in 2012 to $126,549 after 2014

Lt. Governor: $88,183 in 2012 to $98,241 after 2014

Sec. of State: $90,360 in 2012 to $100,666 after 2014

Attorney General: $134,135 in 2012 to $149,432 after 2014

Auditor: $90,360 in 2012 to $100,666 after 2014

Treasurer: $85,306 in 2012 to $95,062 after 2014

Tax Commissioner: $98,068 in 2012 to $105,051 after 2014

Public Service Commissioners: $92,835 in 2012 to $103,412 after 2014

Ag Commissioner: $92,826 in 2012 to $103,412 after 2014

Insurance Commissioner: $90,306 in 2012 to $100,658 after 2014

I can tell you that Governor Dalrymple’s requests for pay increases won’t be the largest considered by the legislature. I’ve spoken with a legislator who tells me there will be a bill put in place to make it law that the governor, and the lieutenant governor, are the highest paid elected officials in the state.

Right now I believe the highest paid elected official in the state is Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, though I’d note (as a grim sort of commentary) that there are plenty of higher ed officials, faculty and sports coaches who make far more than any elected official in the state. That bill makes sense. The governor is the top official in the state, followed by the lieutenant governor, and should be paid accordingly.

People get really wound up about pay for elected officials, but I don’t mind compensating them well for their service. That can be a hard point to swallow given how hard they work, and how much they spend, to get elected to these offices. That being said, serving the public as an elected official is hard work. Pay for elected officials is a minuscule portion of overall state spending, and if we pay them a lot of money the odds that they’ll feel the need to be corrupt are less.

Not a lot less, but still.

I don’t think we need to pay these people lavishly, as we do in some other parts of state government (a newspaper editor in the state once justified six-digit salaries in higher ed by suggesting that it was appropriate that university presidents be paid like CEO’s), but I don’t think pay for North Dakota’s public officials is anywhere near lavish.

Update: OMB Director Pam Sharp called me this morning to say that I was indicating this pay increase was happening in a smaller window than it really is. Originally I put that these increases would take place between 2012 and 2014, but technically the higher rates don’t kick in until after 2014, which would be 2015.

I’ve corrected that to reflect the wider time window.

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Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters. He writes a weekly column for several North Dakota newspapers, and also serves as a policy fellow for the North Dakota Policy Council.

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