Gregoire far down on list of state's highest-paid employees

Despite being the state's chief executive, Gov. Chris Gregoire is far from being the state's highest-paid employee.

A database of all state employee salaries -- available to search on tricityherald.com -- puts Gregoire's gross pay in 2010 well below that of nearly 1,000 other people on the state's payroll.

Tri-Citians who earn more than Gregoire include Washington State University Tri-Cities Chancellor Vicky Carwein, who earned $221,633 in 2010, and Columbia BasinCollege President Rich Cummins, who earned $203,100. Gregoire earned $166,891.

Hundreds of the top earners were in the field of higher education, where University of Washington football coach Steve Sarkisian ranked No. 1 with a whopping $1.98 million in gross pay.

But the Office of Financial Management -- the agency that provided the data -- said Sarkisian and other athletics coaches at UW and WSU aren't paid with taxpayer money.

Neither are the dozens of medical researchers at the top of the list. Much of their pay comes from research grants, according to the financial management office.

Every two years, the Office of Financial Management produces a report on how much state employees earn.

The numbers aren't salaries -- they're what the person actually earned during 2010. So if someone worked only part of the year, only the amount they actually were paid is counted.

The office then publishes a complete list of state employee names, titles and pay on its website for public access.

State legislators -- who approve the budget that pays state employees' salaries -- make $42,106, unless they hold a special position, such as House Speaker Frank Chopp, D-Seattle, and Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown, D-Spokane, who each were paid $50,106 in 2010.

Senate Minority Leader Mike Hewitt, R-Walla Walla, who represents the district that includes Pasco, Burbank, Finley and east Kennewick, made $46,106 from the state last year.

Attorney General Rob McKenna was one of the higher paid elected officials at $151,718 -- but still about $15,000 less than Gregoire, meaning he would get about a 10 percent raise if elected to the Governor's Mansion in 2012.

In comparison, Secretary of State Sam Reed earned $117,782 and Lt. Gov. Brad Owen made $111,623.

The full database is online at tricityherald.com.

-- Michelle Dupler: 582-1543; mdupler@tricityherald.com

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