Judicial salary or compensation commissions are nothing particularly new, but more and more states have in the last several years attempted to get them established in their states. Texas enacted one in 2007 that makes advisory suggestions, while the salaries set by New York’s commission, created by a law signed in 2010, are binding unless overriden by the state’s legislature. 2012 has two bills that look to establish or reestablish such commissions.
The Indiana Public Officers Compensation Advisory Commission was created in 2004 (HB 1401) to make recommendations to the legislature regarding salaries to be paid to public officers, including and expressly all judges. It was repealed in 2011 as part of an omnibus bill (HB 1233) that eliminated dozens of councils, commissions, and boards. HB 1002 of 2012 also eliminates two dozen or so committees, commissions, and boards but does re-create the Public Officers Compensation Advisory Commission. The bill, with the advisory commission, passed the House unanimously on January 30 and is currently in the Senate Committee on Public Policy.
Connecticut is considering SB 31, a bill to create a new Commission on Judicial Compensation. Connecticut already has a Compensation Commission for Elected State Officers and Judges which recommends salary changes. The Commission on Judicial Compensation under SB 31, however, would replicate provisions similar to New York, namely, that the recommended changes to salaries are automatic unless overriden by the legislature. The bill specifies that the Commission in examining judicial salaries must take into account a variety of factors, including but expressly not limited to:
- the overall economic climate in the state
- the rate of inflation
- the levels of compensation received by judges of other states and of the federal government
- the levels of compensation received by attorneys employed by government agencies, academic institutions and private and nonprofit organizations
- the state’s interest in attracting highly qualified and experienced attorneys to serve in judicial capacities
- compensation adjustments applicable to employees of the state during applicable fiscal years
- the state’s ability to fund increases in compensation
The bill was introduced February 9 and is currently pending in the Joint Committee on Judiciary.