Legislature(2001 - 2002)

2001-01-12 Senate Journal

Full Journal pdf

2001-01-12                     Senate Journal                      Page 0069
SB 34                                                                                             
SENATE BILL NO. 34 BY THE SENATE RULES COMMITTEE                                                    
BY REQUEST OF THE GOVERNOR, entitled:                                                               
             "An Act relating to the monthly salary for heads of                                   
            principal executive departments; and providing for an                                  
          effective date."                                                                          
was read the first time and referred to the State Affairs and Finance                               
The following fiscal information was published today:                                               
 Fiscal Note. No. 1, zero, Office of the Governor                                                   
Governor's transmittal letter dated January 12:                                                     
Dear President Halford:                                                                             
Present and past administrations have been fortunate to find capable                                
men and women willing to leave far more lucrative jobs to serve the                                 
public in demanding positions as heads of principal state departments.                              
In fact, over the years many candidates have declined offers and                                    
commissioners have left after a short tenure because they could earn                                
so much more in other public and private jobs. While public service                                 
can be personally fulfilling, the state cannot expect to continue to                                
attract and retain talented people unless there is a fair salary                                    
commensurate with the responsibilities of the job.                                                  

2001-01-12                     Senate Journal                      Page 0070
I am transmitting to you a bill that would permit some flexibility in                               
setting the salary of a principal department head. Under existing law                               
enacted over 20 years ago, commissioner salaries are set at Range 28,                               
Step E with no opportunity for step or range increases regardless of                                
how long the person remains in the job. This bill allows setting a                                  
commissioner's salary at a higher step and range -- no more than                                    
Range 30, Step F  -- to recognize special skill or experience. This                                 
approach is identical to the method under existing law for setting the                              
salary of deputy department heads.                                                                  
The current salary of commissioners is not in line with positions of                                
similar authority and responsibility in the private sector or even larger                           
municipalities within the state. Ironically, deputies and other managers                            
often make more than their commissioners because they are permitted                                 
salary increases over time. Salaries of the directors of the state's quasi-                         
independent agencies such as Alaska Housing Finance Corporation,                                    
Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority, and the Alaska                                  
Permanent Fund Corporation, which compete most closely with the                                     
private sector, substantially exceed those of commissioners.  Despite                               
lower costs of living, the salaries of department heads in many other                               
states, including those on the West Coast, exceed those of Alaska                                   
commissioners. While this proposal would permit only a modest salary                                
increase for department heads, the flexibility afforded could help                                  
attract candidates from the private sector and could encourage                                      
qualified appointees to remain in service to the public. Recognizing                                
that there is never a good time to raise salaries for our public officials,                         
this action is long overdue.                                                                        
I urge your favorable action this session.                                                          
       Tony Knowles