Legislative Comparisons

The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) surveys all states every other year and publishes its findings.

Click on Legislative Comparisons to view how Washington's legislators' salaries compare with their peers in other states.  You can also click on how they compare to their peers in the 12 Comparable States.

Also, click on the following links for additional comparison information:

A key factor in comparing legislator salaries across the country is whether they are full-time, professional legislatures or are part-time and if part-time how much time is required to do the job.  Determining that, however, has been difficult because state legislatures are not alike.  The National Conference of State Legislatures undertook this task and grouped state legislatures into five colors: Green, Green Lite, Gray, Gold, and Gold Lite.

Green legislatures require the most time of legislators, usually 80 percent or more of a full-time job and they have large staffs. In most Green states, legislators are paid enough to make a living without requiring outside income. These legislatures are more similar to Congress than are the other state legislatures. Most of the nation's largest population states fall in this category. Because there are marked differences within the category, the NCSL has subdivided the Green states. Those in Green typically spend more time on the job because their sessions are longer and their districts larger than those in Green Lite. As a result, they tend to have more staff and are compensated at a higher rate.

Gray legislatures are hybrids. Legislatures in these states typically say that they spend more than two-thirds of a full time job being legislators. Although their income from legislative work is greater than that in the Gold states, it's usually not enough to allow them to make a living with having other sources of income. Legislatures in the Gray category have intermediate sized staff. States in the middle of the population range tend to have Gray legislatures.

Gold states, on average spend the equivalent of half of a full-time job doing legislative work. The compensation they receive for this work is quite low and requires them to have other sources of income in order to make a living. The Gold states have relatively small staffs. They are often called traditional or citizen legislatures and they are most often found in the smallest population, more rural states. Again NCSL has divided these states into two groups. The Legislatures in Gold are the most traditional or citizen legislatures. The legislatures in Gold Lite are slightly less traditional.

Visit the National Conference of State Legislatures' web site at www.ncsl.org for more information about state legislatures.