Mo’ Money by Default
The salaries go up only once every four years and when they do, they reflect the Consumer Price Index for the Northeast region for the previous four years.
Translated: the annual salary paid the governor is going from $117,817 to $129,210 on Jan. 11 and for the attorney general, from $105,416 to $115,610.
At the same time, the salaries paid the lieutenant governor, treasurer and secretary of state are rising from $99,214 to $108,808 annually.
We could have the debate about whether the amounts are justified. In some cases — especially lieutenant governor, the answer is, “surely not.” In other cases, such as governor, the amount is nowhere near what a comparable CEO could expect. That said, the numbers are more than enviable from the lowly position of many of us.
But the question of automatic increases is the rub. Such offices differ from the private sector in that the candidates for office run in an election; they don’t, as in the private sector, negotiate with their employers-to-be. It’s reasonable, therefore, for the government to have a standard, nearly apolitical, formula that keeps the compensation reasonable no matter who wins the office.
That said, it’d be a rare Rhode Islander who’d claim that the state’s economy has improved by 9.67% over the past four years, and rarer still would be those stating that the government’s ability to pay its officers more has increased. During times of recession, the General Assembly should pass statutes postponing all raises until Rhode Islanders have felt the return of economic health.
Of course, in our current circumstances, that might represent a permanent moratorium on raises.