Most lawmakers' pay will rise from $49,000 to $82,000 beginning in 2026, with similar raises for department heads and top legislative aides. (Hal Brown for New Jersey Monitor)
Gov. Phil Murphy signed a bill giving legislators their first pay increase in more than two decades amid a flurry of other bill actions Tuesday.
The bill will raise most legislators’ $49,000 salary to $82,000 in 2026, the first salary hike the state’s part-time lawmakers have seen since the one that took their pay to $49,000 in 2002. Lawmakers’ new salaries will make them among the highest-paid state legislators in the nation.
The bill also increases pay for the state’s department heads and executive directors of partisan legislative offices, from $175,000 to $210,000.
The Legislature approved the salary hikes with bipartisan support last week (the bill passed the Assembly 48-24 and the Senate 27-7), just days after it was introduced. Critics called the measure self-serving, but supporters said pay increases are needed to keep state government employees from fleeing Trenton for the private sector and to help attract people from all walks of life to the Legislature.
“As it stands, it has been more than 20 years since legislators have had their pay increased, which makes it harder for people who are not independently wealthy to run for office. The $49,000 salary of 24 years ago would be worth over $86,000 today,” former Sen. Dick Codey, a bill sponsor, said last week before his retirement from the Legislature.
The bill will also take the governor’s pay to $210,000, though that hike will only take effect once a new governor is sworn in in 2026.
Lt. Gov. Tahesha Way, who also serves as secretary of state, will not receive a raise under the bill, which specifies lieutenant governors who also lead a department are not eligible for raises until a new administration takes over in 2026.
The legislation increases legislators’ staff allowances from $135,000 to $150,000 and codifies that amount in statute.
It also extends cost-of-living increases for the state’s judges through 2027. Under prior law, the last such adjustment would be made in 2025.
The salary hikes are forecasted to cost the state $3.1 million in 2024 and 2025. Those costs would rise to $9.6 million in 2026 and $12.4 million in 2027.
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