Gretchen Schuldt
Court Watch

Budget Gives Judges An 11% Raise

Topped by increase of $18,732 in annual salary for state Supreme Court judges.

By , Wisconsin Justice Initiative - Jul 12th, 2021 02:32 pm
Wisconsin Supreme Court. Photo by Mariiana Tzotcheva.

Wisconsin Supreme Court. Photo by Mariiana Tzotcheva.

State court judges are slated to get 11% pay raises over the next two years, under the budget signed last week by Gov. Tony Evers.

The raises would boost the pay of Wisconsin Supreme Court justices by almost $19,000. Circuit court judges will receive the smallest boosts – more than $16,000.

Judges would get pay hikes of 5% starting in January 2022 and another 6% in January 2023, for a two-year total increase of 11.3%. The money for the raises was approved in the budget, but the raises themselves must be approved by the Joint Committee on Employment Relations.

The budget also includes general wage hikes for other state employees of 2% each year, for a total wage increase of slightly more than 4%.

The generosity toward judges means that circuit court judges, who are paid $147,535, would get $154,912 in 2022 and $164,206 in 2023, for a total pay increase of $16,671.

Appeals court judges, who now make $156,388, would make $164,207 next year and $174,060 in 2023, a jump of $17,672 from the current salary.

Supreme Court justices, now paid $165,772, would get $174,061 in 2022 and $184,504 in 2023, an increase of $18,732.

The increased judicial pay was put forward by the Republican-controlled Joint Finance Committee. The judges-only raises – the 3% in 2022 and 4% in 2023 that other state workers are not getting – would cost about $3 million over the biennium.

Supreme Court Justice Patience Roggensack, as chief justice in 2017, lobbied unsuccessfully for judicial raises that would boost her own salary by more than $20,000, to about $152,000. Her efforts had the backing of corporate interests who appear before the court, including Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce and the Wisconsin Realtors Association.

The Legislature that year approved two-year judicial raises totaling 4%.

Gretchen Schuldt writes a blog for Wisconsin Justice Initiative, whose mission is “To improve the quality of justice in Wisconsin by educating the public about legal issues and encouraging civic engagement in and debate about the judicial system and its operation.”

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