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Gianforte's Cabinet To Receive Higher Salaries Using Agency Funds

People walk through the snow near the illuminated entrance of Montana's capitol as the sun sets.
Jackie Yamanaka/Yellowstone Public Radio

Montana Governor Greg Gianforte Monday said directors nominated to lead 12 state agencies will receive an average salary increase of 20 percent over their predecessors. Funding for the pay increases will come from their respective departments.

“Montana’s pay for agency directors has been among the worst in our region and country," Gianforte said in a press release. "We’re looking for folks who can make our state agencies more responsive to the people they serve and more responsible stewards of taxpayer dollars."

Gianforte directed department heads to “identify efficiencies in their respective agencies” to directly fund the salary adjustments.

The incoming directors for Montana’s Department of Public Health and Human Services and the Department of Commerce are slated to see the highest pay increases, bringing salaries up to $165,000 and $160,000, respectively. That’s more than a 40 percent jump for each position.

DPHHS's director salary last year ranked 42 out of 44 positions in the U.S., according to the press release. The additional $52,000 pulls the position in Montana up to 27.

The Department of Administration’s Director will receive a nearly 28 percent salary increase for $145,000. The head of the Department of Corrections will see a similar bump in pay for $144,000.

The directors of the Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks, Environmental Quality, Natural Resources and Conservation, Revenue and Transportation are slated for 15 percent increases, bringing salaries up to $130,000. The director for the Department of Military Affairs will also receive $130,000 with a 5 percent increase over last year.

The lowest director salary is for Montana’s head of agriculture, who will receive $120,000 with a 6 percent salary increase.

Gianforte has supported a bill in the state legislature that would keep base salary wages for most state employees stagnant through June 2022 and then increase wages for the following fiscal year.