Do the State's Top Elected Officials Need a Raise?

January 31 2011, 12:00 PM

Surely the subject of whether public officials are earning enough pay is a difficult topic to discuss when the state's unemployment rate is higher than eight percent, and furloughs and pay freezes have been in effect for consecutive years. In fact, salaries for the governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, treasurer, and secretary of state haven't increased since 1999, according to the Denver Post, which notes many people, like former state Senator Norma Anderson, a Lakewood Republican, believe it's time for a raise. Anderson thinks the governor should at least earn the same pay as Denver's mayor. John Hickenlooper, for instance, gave up his $145,601 mayoral salary for $90,000 when the Democrat became governor.

Thank Colorado's new secretary of state, Scott Gessler, a Republican, for prompting the debate over whether taxpayers are doling out enough to the politicians they elect. Gessler has been making headlines since recently revealing he would moonlight part-time with a law firm to supplement his salary. Gessler, who earns $68,500 as secretary of state, suggests a committee could explore the idea of raises. But with the state looking to make myriad cuts in the face of a $1.1 billion budget shortfall next year, some have qualms.

For now Gessler's not even sure he can moonlight. He tells the Post his old firm, which deals in election law, isn't too keen on the idea of him disclosing the identities of his clients in order to assuage public concerns about conflicts of interest. "At the end of the day, it means I may not be doing any of this at all," Gessler concedes.