Connecticut judges will be getting their first pay raise in six years under the new state budget, which increases judicial salaries by about 10.6 percent over two years.
The raises were included in a budget bill of more than 500 pages that was approved by the Legislature Wednesday. Judges will see a 5.3 percent raise July 1 and another 5.3 percent increase next year.
Chief Justice Chase T. Rogers said in a statement that she appreciated lawmakers and Governor Dannel P. Malloy’s support of the salary hikes. Judges haven’t had a salary increase since 2007. Rogers had lobbied for even more extensive raises, initially asking for 11 percent in the first year to offset the six years of flat salaries.
She argued that the relatively low salaries were making it harder to attract top-flight lawyers to the bench. Additionally, she noted the recent flight of several top judges to more lucrative posts in private law firms.
"These raises were recommended by the Commission on Judicial Compensation, which spent many hours researching, analyzing and considering this issue before presenting a public report to the governor and legislative leaders," Rogers said. Earlier this year, the chief justice had testified before the commission, which was chaired by Tim Fisher, a McCarter & English partner who will become dean of the University of Connecticut School of Law on July 1.
The two-year, $44 billion state budget takes effect July 1 and includes about $5.5 million for the raises. The state has 201 judge positions on its Supreme, Appellate and Superior courts. Fifteen of those posts are vacant.
Superior Court judges will see their pay increase from the current $146,780 to $162,751 over the two years. Associate Supreme Court justices’ salaries will increase from $162,520 to $180,204; Rogers’ pay will go from $175,645 to $194,757.
Family support magistrates also will get a pay raise, from $121,615 to $134,848 over the two years.
In recommending the raises, Rogers and the commission cited a national survey by the National Center for State Courts. The survey showed Connecticut pay for general trial court judges ranked 14th highest in the country. But when the state’s cost of living was factored in, the state ranking dropped to 45th.