Colo. Senate OKs pay hikes for elected officials

<p>(Hart Van Denburg/CPR News)</p>
<p>The Colorado Capitol.</p>

Colorado lawmakers are moving forward with a bipartisan bill to raise salaries for local and state elected officials. Some of those offices haven’t had a raise for more than 15 years.

Senators voted 21-14 for the bill, on the last possible day for a bill to clear at least one chamber. The pay raises now go to the House. If lawmakers pass the salary increases, the change will take effect in 2019.

Under the plan, statewide office holders would see their salaries rise around 60 percent, to more than $100,000 a year. Pay for state lawmakers would increase to $41,oo0 a year.

Sen. Leroy Garcia, D-Pueblo, opposed the measure because he didn't think he could justify it. "I think as you look out at rural Colorado and you look at many parts of the state, times are tough for people," he said.

Democratic House sponsor Millie Hamner acknowledges it’s politically difficult to raise salaries, but says many elected officials now make a lot less than the people working for them. "I think it causes lots of morale issues. It’s not good personnel practice or policy," she said.