Pay Raises Planned for Top Montana Officials

By Beacon Staff

HELENA – Montana’s top two elected officials will get a pay raise starting July 1.

Gov. Brian Schweitzer will receive an 8 percent salary increase to $108,167, while Lt. Gov. John Bohlinger’s salary is going up 9.3 percent to $86,362.

Lee Newspapers of Montana reports the two officials accepted this year’s raises after declining increases two years ago when the economy was declining and state employees faced a pay freeze.

“Today, we have more than $330 million in cold, hard cash in the bank, five times as much as the average over the previous 20 years,” Schweitzer said.

Elected officials automatically receive pay adjustments every two years based on the salaries for the same posts in Idaho, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana.

However, Montana Attorney General Steve Bullock and Secretary of State Linda McCulloch are turning down their increases after the 2011 Legislature rejected a deal Schweitzer reached with employee unions for a 1 percent raise this year and a 3 percent raise next year.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Denise Juneau’s salary was set at the same rate after checking regional salaries.

State Auditor Monica Lindeen said she will donate her pay increase to charity as she and Bullock did two years ago.

Supreme Court Chief Justice Mike McGrath’s pay is set to increase 6.5 percent to $122,686, while the other justices are in line for a 6.6 percent raise to $121,434. District Court judges will receive a 6.6 percent raise to $113,928.

Schweitzer said he was disappointed the Legislature rejected raises for state employees, as were union officials.

However, Quinton Nyman, executive director of the Montana Public Employees Association, and Eric Fever, president of the MEA-MFT, said they don’t begrudge the elected officials their raises.

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