Big Raises for Top Indiana Officeholders Lacked Public Debate

The last time the Indiana General Assembly "level-set" salaries of elected officials was around 2008. (Adobe Stock)

The Republican-controlled Indiana General Assembly flexed its muscle while approving the state's next budget.

Tucked away in the $45.5 billion two-year spending plan are big raises for Indiana's top elected officials. Gov. Eric Holcomb's successor in 2025 will receive nearly a 50% increase, making nearly $200,000.

Stephanie Wells, president of the Indiana Fiscal Policy Institute, said she understands there are a fair amount of 11th-hour negotiations when lawmakers are voting on the next budget.

"Our governor, for example, went from far below the national average of executive compensation to more towards the top," Wells noted. "That may be very justifiable; the same with the lieutenant governor. I think that that salary is more in line probably with what other states are paying."

However, Wells pointed out her organization always prefers policy decisions are made after robust public discussion. Holcomb is barred by term limits from running again. The new salary for lieutenant governor is more than $174,000, or 88% of the compensation of an Indiana Supreme Court justice.

Salaries for state treasurer, auditor and Secretary of State will increase about 39%, and the pay for Secretary of State increases to $164,000, or about 83% of the salary for a Supreme Court justice.

"I think a public discussion about what those rates might be," Wells urged. "For example, the auditor, the treasurer and the Secretary of State are 66% of the state Supreme Court justice. Why those percentages? I think conversation about that, publicly, might have been useful."

Wells added she plans to comb through the new budget plan for context.

Joey Graham, Producer

Wednesday, May 3, 2023

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