The Judicial Compensation Commission recommended a $29,000 increase in the salary in Maryland judges by 2016 to avoid losing qualified judges to the private sector. This would amount to a 23 percent raise (over four years) to lower-paid judges. It’s true that if you take into account cost of living, Maryland’s judges’ salaries rank 43rd among states. But it’s unlikely that Maryland will be making its way toward the top of that list any time soon.
Henry E. Dugan, president of the Maryland Bar Association, wrote an opinion piece for The Sun, voicing his support for the proposed pay increase. His founding-father-quote-ridden appeal, while making a strong case for the importance of the judicial branch to the American democratic system, fails to address the details, namely, why taxpayers should cough up $14 million to give judges a more than 20 percent raise amid a sagging economy and a “$1 billion budget shortfall.” Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton were brilliant, but they weren’t speaking about Maryland post-housing-bubble.
It looks like they’ll get some kind of raise — they haven’t seen one of those since 2006 — but given State Delegates’ response to the proposal, it won’t be nearly the size they’re looking for. Delegate Guy Guzzone of Howard County couldn’t see awarding judges a raise out of proportion with other state workers. He would consider giving them a two percent raise. How does that sound, guys?