House approves pay raises for state judges

By By John Guidroz / American Press

House lawmakers approved legislation that would give pay raises to state judges over five years.

With no debate, the vote was 79-16 in favor of Senate Bill 188 by Sen. Danny Martiny, R-Metairie. A House committee amended

the legislation to tie in state sheriff’s pay with future increases to judges. It returns to the Senate for consideration.

Under the measure, Supreme Court

justices who make more than $150,000 a year would get a 5.5 percent

raise, or $8,000, effective

July 1. Appeals court judges who make more than $143,000 would get

a 3.7 percent raise, or $5,300. District court judges who

make more than $137,000 a year would get a 4 percent raise, or

$5,500.

After those raises, all of the state’s 372 state, city and parish judges would have their salaries boosted by 2.1 percent

each year through 2017.

Calcasieu Sheriff Tony Mancuso said it has been about “six or seven years” since state sheriffs have received a pay raise.

Meanwhile, he said his department has given “consistent raises” to deputies without having to cut its own budget.

“I know the state is having budget issues, but this money doesn’t come from the state,” he said. “So, I think that’s why it

wasn’t an issue.”

Rep. Brett Geymann, R-Moss Bluff, was the only Southwest Louisiana lawmaker who opposed the measure. He said his vote was

“strictly on financial reasons” and “not a reflection on the job the judges and sheriffs are doing.”

“The state has budget problems, and we have not increased funding to (Kindergarten-12th grade) education or given raises to

state employees in years,” Geymann said.

Earlier in the day, House lawmakers rejected a constitutional amendment to get rid of the mandatory retirement age for judges.

Legislators voted 61-35 for SB 5 by Sen. Eric LaFleur, D-Ville Platte. The bill required 70 House votes for approval, and

a motion to reconsider is pending.

Under the amendment, voters would

decide whether to eliminate the mandatory retirement age of 70 for

judges. Judges who turn

70 while in office can serve the rest of their term before having

to retire. It would go before voters Nov. 4, 2014, or the

next statewide election.