The GA is getting ready to start up again, so we are being treated to various trial balloons and other selling of possible bills for the season. Senator Greg Lavelle’s signature bill last year was to eliminate the State’s Compensation Commission, and it seems to be back this year.
This article oddly focuses on legislative pay, which I imagine is the frame Lavelle wants to have this conversation in. But you should keep in mind that this Commission reviews the salaries of the Legislature, but also Administration Executive–level staff and senior Judiciary staff. The focus on Legislative raises tells me that the only reason Lavelle wants this to go away is to have the issue of voting on pay raises to bludgeon Democrats with. While he wonders why the results of a Compensation report would be rejected before it was completed, I doubt that anyone here will forget last year’s budget crisis. No one got raises (that I know of) in a year where schools were cut by 35M. Rejecting those raises was part and parcel of the austerity of the season.
The Compensation Commission produces good work — the report is data-rich and provides a good rationale for its recommendations. Eliminating this Commission and its report means that we no longer have any real visibility into how senior salaries are crafted and why. The GA always retains the power to say No to the findings and either not implement or revise the recommendations.
The fact that they retain the power to implement any raises is important — especially to the discussions over judicial pay. Leo Strine has been pretty clear that he thinks that Delaware needs to be better focused on paying its judges better so that the Judiciary is a competitive choice for senior lawyers in the private sector. Delaware’s marketing for itself includes its judiciary as one of its key selling points for companies doing business here. Using the Commission report, the GA could address itself to this issue and still reject pay raises for itself.
I still think that any raises should be tied to State worker raises somehow. I believe that any raises apply to all State workers, including senior staff. The Compensation Commission addresses senior staff salaries largely as a personnel acquisition issue and raises recommended by them are on top of any others granted by the GA in the previous 4 years. (Let me know if I am wrong on that.)
Mostly I am agnostic on senior staff pay raises, except to note that if *every* State employee got reasonable raises, this Compensation Commission would have less urgency. I *do* think that there should be a good conversation about the compensation of the Judiciary. If we don’t hesitate to throw money at beach replenishment, we should have a conversation about whether or not we are compensating judges to get the best of them.
And Greg Lavelle needs to find something to work on that matters. We have school systems that have been shortchanged 35M this year. How about fast-tracking Port of Wilmington II? Time to stop trying to troll Democrats and get something real done, Senator Lavelle.