Govenor Chet Culver, shown here signing the smoking ban bill, says he will likely sign a bill that gives him a raise. Governor Chet Culver says it is "likely" he will approve a salary package that includes double-digit pay hikes for the top officials in state government. Iowa legislature approved a nearly 10 percent pay boost for Governor Chet Culver.

Salaries for the lieutenant governor, ag secretary, auditor, treasurer and secretary of state will grow by nearly 24 percent. The attorney general and supreme court justices will see their pay grow by 11 percent and the chief justice gets a 12 percent salary boost.

"Clearly the legislature wanted to try to address both executive branch and judicial branch salaries," Culver says. "It’s a lot of money and it’s about half of what the last administration received in terms of my increase — nine versus about 18 percent."

Effective July 1st, Culver’s salary will grow to by over $12,000. Senate Democratic Leader Mike Gronstal says it’s appropriate to raise the pay of state government’s top officials so they’re not paid significantly less than the people they’re managing. "For too long around this place what we pay state elected officials has been a political game and we thought it was a mistake to do that," Gronstal says.

The proposal seeks to tie future pay increases for these top statehouse politicians and judges to the salary schedules for high-level state government managers, like department directors. "Over time when we have years when our economy is weak those pay ranges will not change and when we have years when it’s appropriate and the economy’s O.K. those will go up over time and we will quit paying political football with the salaries of statewide elected officials," Gronstal says.

Culver says that rationale makes sense. "That’s what the legislature and leadership in particular (were) trying to address and I think they’re pleased with the step that they think it will take in terms of leveling that out," Culver says. "I’m also glad it was a bipartisan agreement. You have a number of Republican statewide elected officials that are also going to get an increase in their salary."

The governor’s pay will go up 9.7 percent, to an annual salary of $142,570, effective July 1st. The lieutenant governor, auditor, ag secretary, secretary of state and treasurer each will be paid $127,530, an increase of 23.6 percent.

The attorney general’s pay will be $137,330, an increase of 11 percent. The chief justice of the Iowa supreme court will be paid $170,850, a 12 percent increase. The other supreme court justices will be paid $163,200, an 11 percent increase. The chief judge on the court of appeals will get an eight percent increase to an annual salary of $153,000. Other appellate judges will see their pay go up 8.2 percent to $147,900.