Ohio Lawmakers to Consider Pay Raises for Judges, County Officials -- and Themselves

The Ohio Statehouse in Columbus. ideastream file photo by Brian Bull
The Ohio Statehouse in Columbus. ideastream file photo by Brian Bull
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Most of Ohio’s elected officials have gone since 2008 – six years – without a pay increase, said Republican State Rep. Gerald Stebelton of Lancaster. Stebelton said judges have waited seven years since their last increase.

So he’s proposing a bill that would institute cost-of-living raises for elected officials and a 5 percent bump for judges, and would revamp the pay scales for county and township officials, who make less than their urban counterparts. But because state lawmakers are among those who would get pay hikes if they vote for this bill, Stebelton admitted there could be trouble.

“I think that legislators always are concerned about that," Stebelton said. "But sooner or later, you have to look at it and be realistic. If we’re going to continue to attract good people to come to the General Assembly or run for statewide offices or become judges, they need to be paid salaries commensurate with their responsibilities.”

But Stebelton said there’s no selfish interest at work here, because he’s term limited and won’t be back next year, when the pay increase would take effect.

“I’m lame-ducked out, and I can’t be benefited from this," he said. "So it looked to me like since we were considering doing this for all the judges and all the countywide officials, I though that as, well, as long as we’re doing that, since the General Assembly had not had an increase since 2008 that would be an appropriate time to do that.”

It’s unclear how much the pay hikes for most elected officials would cost governments, but the 5 percent pay increase for judges at all levels would cost the state $2.4 million. But Stebelton said it’s needed to attract good people to public office. There’s no word on whether the bill has the support it would need to pass by the end of the year, but Stebelton said he’s asked for no co-sponsors.

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