Editor’s note: One of Civil Beat’s most popular features, the database of public employee salaries, is taking shape for the 2020 fiscal year, which began July 1. We update the salary database when new union contracts are signed and new budgets are put in place reflecting salary increases.
Elected legislators are the best known employees of the Hawaii Senate and House, but far from the highest paid.
Almost all of the state’s 25 senators and 51 representatives receive $62,604 annually in base pay.
But at least 35 unelected Senate employees and 37 House employees earn more than that. And depending on where they land in their salary ranges, potentially dozens more employees are getting higher pay than the politicians.
Of course, Hawaii has a part-time Legislature and many of the lawmakers have other jobs.
Since 2010, Civil Beat has been publishing databases with information about tens of thousands of public employees. Salaries are a major component of state and county budgets and we think it’s important for taxpayers to know how their money is being spent.
A few more notes on legislators’ base pay: In addition to the fact that many hold other jobs, neighbor island lawmakers receive per diems of $225 during the legislative sessions that begin in January and adjourn in May.
And the top lawmaker in each chamber earns more. Senate President Ron Kouchi and House Speaker Scott Saiki get $70,104 annually.
Hawaii legislators earn less than some of their unelected colleagues, but are still among the best compensated in the country, with pay raises in the offing.
• Ruperto Juarez, House assistant chief clerk, $129,804.
• Carol Taniguchi, Senate chief clerk, $125,652.
Another Agency Heard From
The updated database also includes 39 employees of the Legislative Reference Bureau, an agency that conducts research and provides a variety of services to legislators, legislative committees, and in some cases, the public.
The bureau’s director, Charlotte Carter-Yamauchi, earns $154,812 annually.
The next highest paid are Shawn Nakama, first assistant director, $142,416; and John Morsey, assistant director for revision of statutes, $122,000.
The pay of the bureau’s 11 research attorneys ranges widely from $62,400 to $100,000.
Sign up for our FREE morning newsletter and face each day more informed.
Will you help us?
There are upsides to being a nonprofit as we carry out our public-service mission. We don’t have a paywall on our site, charge a subscription fee, or clutter our articles with ads. But this also means that reader support sustains every aspect of what we do. Without you, we don’t exist. It’s as simple as that. By donating, you’re supporting everyone on staff—and allowing unbiased, factual, honest journalism to thrive. If you value our work, will you make a tax-deductible donation today?