Jerry Brown (D)
Troy King (R)
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Legal Newsline)-At $184,301, California Attorney General Jerry Brown is the highest-paid of any attorney general in the nation,a Legal Newsline salary survey found.
Starting with California, the 10 states that pay their AGs the most are Alabama at $163,744; New York at $155,500; Tennessee at $154,800; Washington at $150,810; Illinois at $150,000; Virginia and Texas, both at $150,000; Pennsylvania at $141,565 and New Jersey at $141,000.
With the high cost of living in California and New York, it's not terribly surprising to see those states making the top-10 list. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the annual mean wage for lawyers in New York is $136,900 and $137,300 in California.
It is somewhat bewildering to see Alabama among the top 10, one analyst told LNL.
Alabama Attorney General Troy King is paid the second highest salary in the nation in a state where lawyers earn an average annual salary of $108,730. With a cost of living adjustment, King's salary would be to $209,664.7 in California's capitol, Sacramento.
"I'm a little surprised Alabama's at the top just because one doesn't associate high salaries with the more rural Southern states," said Michael Shires, a public policy expert with Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif.
"But," he added, "it's not a smoking gun kind of surprise. It's just: Oh, that's interesting."
The Alabama AG's salary is set by law to match the Alabama Supreme Court associate justices' salaries, spokeswoman Joy Patterson said.
At $154,800, Tennessee Attorney General Robert Cooper Jr. takes in the fourth-highest salary. With a cost of living adjustment, that salary would be tantamount to $204,304 in Sacramento. In Tennessee, the average annual salary for attorneys is $107,490.
The nationwide average salary paid state attorneys general came to $117,513.
Shires said "there's no rhyme or reason" concerning the state-to-state variation in salaries.
"It's not a function of budget but a function of the constitutional processes." he said. "There's a way that's right for each state. It's really an issue of how the people of the state want to reward their public officials and state employees in general."
At a time when state budgets are suffering nationwide, California's Citizens Compensation Commission considered cutting Attorney General Jerry Brown's salary by 10 percent last month.
The vote fell short, however, and they froze it instead. The same commission raised the salary 5 percent last year.
Amid slumping revenues, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has proposed across-the-board budget cuts. Schwarzenegger does not accept his $212,179 annual salary.
California is not alone with its slumping economy.
State sales and income taxes have taken a nosedive across the country, according to a report released early this month by the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government, a public-policy research arm of the State University of New York.
"The underlying trend for states is negative," the report states. "Budget cuts and other gap-closing measures likely loom ahead."
For the first time in six years, state tax revenues did not grow during the January through March 2008 quarter. State tax revenues declined 5.3 percent overall, after adjusting for tax and inflation changes.
Notably, New Jersey - which made the list of top 10 salaries paying Attorney General Anne Milgram $141,000 annually - saw a 13.7 percent drop in state tax revenues.
In fact, every state that made the top 10 salary list showed declining tax revenues.
California's dropped 5.8 percent, Alabama's dropped 4.3 percent drop, New York's dropped 1.8 percent, Tennessee's dropped 7.2 percent, Washington's dropped 5.6 percent, Illinois' dropped 3.2 percent, Virginia's dropped 5.8 percent, Texas' dropped 1.4 percent, and Pennsylvania's dropped 3 percent.
Attorneys General Salaries
1. California Jerry Brown $184,301
2. Alabama Troy King $163,744
3. New York Andrew Cuomo $155,500
4. Tennessee Robert Cooper Jr. $154,800
5. Washington Rob McKenna $151,718
6. Illinois Lisa Madigan $150,810
7. Virginia Bob McDonnell $150,000
7. Texas Greg Abbott $150,000
8. Pennsylvania Tom Corbett $141,565
9. New Jersey Anne Milgram $141,000
10. Delaware Joseph "Beau" Biden III $140,950
11. Georgia Thurbert Baker $137,791
12. Wyoming Bruce Salzburg $137,150
13. Massachusetts Martha Coakley $133,644
14. Wisconsin J.B. Van Hollen $133,033
15. Nevada Catherine Cortez Masto $133,000
16. Florida Bill McCollum $131,604
17. Oklahoma W.A. Drew Edmondson $126,500
18. Maryland Douglas Gansler $125,000
19. Michigan Mike Cox $124,900
20. Iowa Tom Miller $123,669
21. Alaska Talis Colberg $122,640
22. Hawaii Mark Bennett $120,444
23. North Carolina Roy Cooper $119,901
24. Louisiana James "Buddy" Caldwell $115,000
25. Minnesota Lori Swanson $114,288
26. Vermont William Sorrell $113,900
27. Missouri Jay Nixon $113,046
28. New Hampshire Kelly Ayotte $110,113
29. Connecticut Richard Blumenthal $110,000
30. Ohio Nancy Rogers $109,986
31. Mississippi Jim Hood $108,960
32. Rhode Island Patrick Lynch $105,416
33. Utah Mark Shurtleff $101,939
34. Kentucky Jack Conway $101,596
35. Kansas Stephen Six $98,901
36. Idaho Lawrence Wasden $95,160
37. South Dakota Larry Long $95,076
38. New Mexico Gary King $95,000
39. Nebraska Jon Bruning $95,000
39. South Carolina Henry McMaster $92,007
40. Maine Steven Rowe $90,438
41. Arizona Terry Goddard $90,000
42. Montana Mike McGrath $89,602
43. North Dakota Wayne Stenehjem $87,351
44. Indiana Steve Carter $82,000
45. Colorado John Suthers $80,004
46. West Virginia Darrell McGraw $80,000
47. Oregon Hardy Myers $77,196
48. Arkansas Dustin McDaniel $70,000