BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana's judges and sheriffs are edging closer to five years of annual pay raises.
A Senate-passed bill allowing the pay hikes received the backing of the House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday without objection. The measure heads next to the full House for consideration.
The bill would give Supreme Court justices a 5.5 percent pay increase on July 1, with appeal court judges getting a 3.7 percent boost and district court judges receiving a 4 percent increase.
After that, every July from 2014 through 2017, all three sets of judges — along with city and parish court judges — would get a 2.1 percent annual bump in pay.
Sen. Danny Martiny, R-Kenner, sponsored the bill as chairman of an outside commission that reviews judges' salaries and compares them to other states.
"It's never a popular time to give pay raises to government employees, especially given the fact of the state of our economy," Martiny acknowledged. But he added, "I think it's important to our judicial system that we have quality judges."
Martiny said the last raise for judges was in 2010.
Sheriffs would be in line for pay hikes as well, because a law allows them to get the same level raises as district court judges. Senators had added language to the bill that would have eliminated the connection, but the Appropriations Committee removed that language Tuesday.
Supporters of the bill stressed that the dollars for a judicial pay raise would come from the judges' own budget — and not from the state general fund. Sheriffs' raises would come from local funds.