HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) -- The states' judges are looking for a pay raise. A special panel is reviewing their compensation, and despite the state's massive red ink problem the arguments are getting a sympathetic ear at the Capitol.
There are approximately 165 Superior Court judges to handle all of the criminal and civil court cases in the state of Connecticut. They make about $147,000 a year.
The top judge in the state is Chase Rogers, who is Chief Justice of the State Supreme Court, she makes about $176,000 a year. She has recommended that judges get $45,000 in raises over the next four years to attract new people and keep the courts moving.
"All the judges are looking for is to be treated equitably and fairly along with other state employees," said Judge Richard Arnold, President of the CT Judges Association.
The newly established Commission on Judicial Compensation has been told that unlike other state employees, judges have not had a raise in over five years and while there is another budget crisis some members are leaning toward recommending the pay raises.
"There's some complicated decisions that the courts are confronted with and you need to have someone there who fully understands," said Bill Dyson, Commission on Judicial Compensation, "and you have to bring those quality people in to be able to do that."
"There could be discouragement in attracting the best and the brightest," said Judge Arnold, "we're in competition with large firms and others who might compensate better."
And it's not just keeping the criminal cases moving that's at stake, the business community is also concerned.
"Business cases, I mean if we can't have a judicial system that's functioning appropriately, if we're not filling judgeships, it raises the question of 'caseload' and that's a really important issue," said Joe McGree, Commission on Judicial Compensation.
"For business," asked News 8's Mark Davis.
"For business, yeah," said McGee.
Under the proposal made by the Chief Justice, judges would get an 11 percent pay hike in July, and 5-and-a-half percent the three years after that, but sympathetic lawmakers say with the state facing all that red ink the timing is all wrong.
The Special Commission on the Judges pay has several more meetings over the next few weeks and must make a recommendation to the General Assembly by the beginning of the new year.
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