Hawaii lawmakers aren’t making any more money this year, thanks to a political decision to extend their pay cuts imposed in 2009.

And most legislative staff salaries have also stayed the same.

Hawaii’s 25 senators and 51 representatives earn the same annual salary of $46,273, with the exception of the Senate president and House speaker, who each earn a base salary $7,500 higher.

For the second year in a row, Civil Beat filed a request under Hawaii’s open records law asking for the names, positions and salaries of all employees of the Hawaii Legislature. (Read a related article about more than 14,000 Hawaii state government employee salaries.)

The Legislature provided salary information as of July 1.

Hawaii lawmakers were close to getting a more than $2,400 salary boost this summer before reluctantly agreeing to extend 5 percent pay cuts for themselves through Dec. 31, 2013.

Act 57 continues legislators’ pay cuts that began in mid-2009 and were initially set to expire June 30. Had the measure failed, lawmakers would have seen the the cuts restored. That would mean their annual salaries would have increased to $48,708 for a job that is officially part time. (Lawmakers are in session for four months out of the year.)

On top of restoring their pay to June 30, 2009 levels, a previously approved pay raise would have kicked in on Jan. 1, 2012, bumping their salaries up to $54,000. Salaries for the Senate president and House speaker would have increased to $61,500.

The scheduled pay raises had been recommended by a salary commission created by a 2006 constitutional amendment. The group, appointed mostly by former Senate President Colleen Hanabusa and House Speaker Calvin Say, can give lawmakers pay raises they don’t have to vote on. The commission in 2007 approved a series of raises that would amount to a 61 percent increase by 2014 — from $35,900 in 2008 to $57,852 in January 2014.

Halted Pay Raises Would Be Honored

Act 57, the law extending the pay cuts, allows the planned raises to kick in after Dec. 31, 20131.

At least one lawmaker, Rep. Della Au Belatti, opposed the extension of the 5 percent cut because she was concerned that the state wouldn’t be able to pay for the restored salaries in 2014.

The bill became a contentious issue, with lawmakers holding out on agreeing to the cuts until the last day of the session.

Legislative Staff

In addition to lawmakers, the Legislature provided salary information for all staff in the House and Senate, and in four agencies attached to the Legislature.

Legislative support staff numbers haven’t changed much from last year. There are 123 employees in the House and 105 in the Senate, not counting lawmakers.

Five staff employees earn a six-figure salary, all in the House:

  • Sergeant At Arms Kevin Kuroda: $101,616
  • Chief Attorney Richard Dvonch: $102,252
  • Assistant Director Joan Yamaguchi: $102,252
  • Director of Research Cheryl Leong: $108,084
  • Chief Clerk Patricia Mau-Shimizu: $118,896

The highest-paid staff in the Senate are:

  • Majority Director Casey Hines: $90,804
  • Chief of Staff Keira Kamiya: $90,720
  • Senate Clerk Carol Taniguchi: $90,000

A total of 82 state workers are employed by the following four agencies:

  • Office of the Auditor: The agency audits accounts, programs, and performance of state agencies and departments.

  • Legislative Reference Bureau: The agency provides research, consultation, and document drafting services, maintains a research library and operates an online legislative information system.

  • Hawaii State Ethics Commission: The commission’s duties include issuing advisory opinions, investigating charges of alleged violations of state ethics and lobbying laws, and educating government officials and employees on ethics matters.

  • Hawaii State Ombudsman: The office does independent and impartial investigations of complaints against state and county agencies and employees.

Here’s a breakdown of each agency’s salary data.

Office of the Auditor

  • Total employees: 25 (Down one position from last year.)
  • Total amount spent on salaries: $1.86 million (Down from $1.97 million last year.)
  • Average salary: $74,648 (Down from $75,764 last year.)
  • Highest-paid employee: Auditor Marion Higa $129,024 (Up from Higa’s salary of $124,656 last year.)

Legislative Reference Bureau

  • Total employees: 33 (Down one position last year.)
  • Total amount spent on salaries: $1.94 million (Down from $1.95 million last year.)
  • Average salary: $59,038 (Up from $57,353 last year.)
  • Highest-paid employee: Acting Director Charlotte Carter-Yamauchi $108,973 (Unchanged from last year.)

Hawaii Ethics Commission

  • Total employees: 9 (Unchanged from last year.)
  • Total amount spent on salaries: $630,168 (Down slightly from $630,180 last year.)
  • Average salary: $70,019 (Down $1 from last year.)
  • Highest-paid employee: Executive Director Les Kondo $108,972 (Down from Kondo’s salary of $108,984 last year.)

Office of the Ombudsman

  • Total employees: 15 (Unchanged from last year.)
  • Total amount spent on salaries: $934,846 (Up from $917,016 last year.)
  • Average salary: $62,323 (Up from $61,134 last year.)
  • Highest-paid employee: Ombudsman Robin Matsunaga $108,973 (Unchanged from last year.)

Here’s a searchable database of all legislative salaries for the 2011 and 2012 fiscal years. You can search by department, first and last names, job title and fiscal year.

Lena Tran contributed to this story.

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