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Originally published January 10, 2007 at 12:00 AM | Page modified January 10, 2007 at 10:06 PM

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Panel OKs pay boosts for Washington elected officials

A citizen panel on Wednesday tentatively approved pay raises for state legislators, judges, Gov. Chris Gregoire and other elected officials.

The Associated Press

OLYMPIA, Wash.– A citizen panel on Wednesday tentatively approved pay raises for state legislators, judges, Gov. Chris Gregoire and other elected officials.

The increases would bring the governor's pay to nearly $167,000 a year by next year, up from the $150,995 that went into effect last September. Other statewide elected officials also are in line for raises of 10 percent to 12 percent over the next two years.

Lawmakers would rise from about $36,000 currently to more than $42,000 in two steps, and the speaker of the House and Senate majority leader would top $50,000.

Judges would rise to between $137,495 and $159,337, depending on the level of the court.

The pay commission, created by voters by constitutional amendment to remove the hot-potato issue from the hands of the Legislature and governor, approved some of the biggest raises in its 20-year history.

The panel enriched the salary for every position and then added a cost-of-living raise to the new total.

The commission will hold four public hearings and adopt the raises in May. The raises then are filed with the secretary of state and take effect automatically, without going to the Legislature or governor for approval or comment.

Only a citizen referendum could halt the increases. That has never happened since the commission was created.

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