"If we pass this bill, in essence, this is the only group this year that gets an increase in take-home pay," said Unger, who said the reduced pension contribution would be worth $4,100 a year to each judge.
State Supreme Court administrator Steve Canterbury said former Gov. Joe Manchin's administration imposed the higher contribution rates, and said that between the higher contribution and strong investment earnings, the pension fund is currently fully funded for at least the next two decades.
Because of population declines, four counties -- Lewis, McDowell, Wetzel and Wyoming -- dropped to the lower tier, reducing magistrate salaries in those counties from $57,500 to $51,125, along with comparable cuts in staff salaries.
The bill would move those four counties back to the upper tier, and add Barbour and Roane counties, at a total annual cost of $250,000.
Earlier this session, the House passed a controversial measure to move all magistrate salaries up to the upper tier, at a total cost for magistrates and staff of $737,000 a year (HB2434), but Senate leadership showed no interest in pursuing that bill.
Reach Phil Kabler at ph...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1220.