A salary increase for New Jersey judges and Cabinet officers is long overdue, according to the state Senate president whose legislation to give them raises will be considered by the Senate Budget Committee Monday.
The $141,000 salary for the governor’s Cabinet members hasn’t gone up in 16 years, said Senate President Steve Sweeney who has proposed raising it to $175,000.
“We’re fortunate at times where we’ll have people that will come in here and do these jobs because they’re committed to doing it. But they’re also building their credentials, and they’re getting the hell out where they can make a lot of money — double and triple what they’re making once they get out after they’ve had the title,” he said.
Sweeney, D-Gloucester, said the legislation calls for giving judges an annual salary increase of $8,000 this year and in each of the following two years.
“We’re talking about judges that are making very important decisions. And we want to be able to make sure we maintain a certain level of quality when it comes to judges, so we can assure we continue to have one of the finest courts in the nation,” he said.
Sen. Mike Doherty said he doesn’t believe salaries need to be raised to attract or retain judges.
“Because there’s a very lucrative pension associated with being a judge, and actually you only have to work 10 years until you retire, and you can collect a six-figure pension,” said Doherty, R-Somerset.
The state can’t afford the salary increases, he said, and approving them would send the wrong message to taxpayers.