Colorado and Oklahoma’s legislatures have now taken entirely different directions in how to handle salaries for executive branch elected officials with Oklahoma moving to repeal its system of linking such salaries to judges and Colorado’s legislature voting in essentially the exact same plan.
The Colorado bill (SB 288) raced through the legislature in a single week when according to media reports dissenting House members were removed from the Appropriations committee. Under the plan the Colorado governor’s salary would equal 66% of that of the annual salary paid to the state’s Chief Justice. Other officials would have similar ties
- Governor = 66% of annual salary of Chief Justice of the Supreme Court
- Lt. Governor = 58% of annual salary of a County Court Judge in a Class B County
- Attorney General = 60% of annual salary Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals
- Secretary of State = 58% of annual salary of a County Court Judge in a Class B County
- State Treasurer = 58% of annual salary of a County Court Judge in a Class B County
Moreover, the Colorado plan goes even farther than Oklahoma’s and links the legislature’s salaries to that of judges as well
- Member of General Assembly = 25% of annual salary of a County Court Judge in a Class B County
SB 288 was introduced April 30, cleared the Senate on May 5 and the House on May 6.
The exact day Colorado’s SB 288 was introduced, Oklahoma’s Senate was giving final approval to a plan to repeal a similar linkage system. Oklahoma SB 549 as amended by the House was approved by the full Senate on a 36-0 vote on April 30. If signed by the governor it would end a decade’s long practice of linking executive salaries to that of judicial officials
- Governor = salary of Chief Justice of the Oklahoma Supreme Court
- Lt. Governor = salary of associate District Court Judge of county with population between 10,000 and 30,000
- Attorney General = salary of Presiding Judge of the Court of Civil Appeals
- Superintendent of Public Instruction = salary of District Judge
- Corporation Commissioners = salary of associate District Court Judge of county with population over 30,000
- State Treasurer = salary of associate District Court Judge of county with population over 30,000
- State Auditor and Inspector = salary of associate District Court Judge of county with population over 30,000
- State Insurance Commissioner = salary of associate District Court Judge of county with population over 30,000
- Commissioner of Labor = District Court Special Judge
Because of the linkages the Oklahoma legislature had refused to grant judicial salary increases for years, voting against changes proposed by the state’s Board on Judicial Compensation. Because of the linkages last year saw only Oklahoma District (general jurisdiction court) judges getting an increase (and thanks to the linkages local district attorneys as well), resulting in trial judges making more than appellate judges whose salaries were tied to the Governor, Attorney General, and other state-level officials. That topsy-turvy situation was discussed here. The new Oklahoma plan would delink the salaries and create a special commission to recommend executive salary levels.