Recently I wrote about how Democratic Reps. Les Gara from Anchorage, and Scott Kawasaki from Fairbanks, sent an email out to all members of the Legislature, trying to get support for a bill that would deny recommended pay raises for Gov. Sean Parnell, Lt. Gov Mead Treadwell, and the governor’s hand-picked commissioners. The bill was seen by some as a partisan move.
Now, however, it looks less so. On Monday, two days before Christmas, Alaska state Speaker of the House Mike Chenault also sent out an email to members of his caucus, which is primarily composed of Republicans, pitching a bill that would also deny the pay raise.
The raises were recommended by a state commission, which said that raises were “consistent with increases received by the majority of state employees.” The Legislature must act in the first 60 days of session, otherwise the pay raise automatically takes effect.
Parnell has already declined his salary increase, which would have bumped his pay from $145,000 to $154,644 by fiscal year 2015.
However, Parnell supports the other pay raises, which include bumping the lieutenant governor’s salary from $115,000 to $122,649 by 2015 and commissioners from $136,350 to $149,796.24 by 2015.
Dozens of state works and at least 40, if not more, members of unions working for the Municipality of Anchorage make significantly more money than either the commissioners or the governor.
The raises would cost the state roughly $140,000 a year by fiscal year 2015.
Some are surprised that the Republican leader of the House has taken such a swipe at his party’s Republican administration. Some see it as a way for Chenault’s caucus to regain the fiscal conservative label following the financial debacle surrounding the lease for the Anchorage legislative office building, the hundreds of millions spent on a natural gas pipeline that has yet to be built, and tens of millions spent on trying to build a bridge across the Knick Arm, famously dubbed one of the “Bridges to Nowhere.” To name a few projects that by most accounts, could be deemed less than fiscally responsible.
In other news: Merry Christmas.
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