ALBANY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — New York State Bar Association President Vincent Doyle says he’s concerned that the new Judicial Compensation Commission has approved only modest salary hikes for state judges whose pay has stagnated since 1999.

“During the past 12 years, the cost of living increased by 40 percent, eroding judicial salaries,” said Vincent E. Doyle III, president of the lawyers’ group. Yet “judges’ salaries will have risen 27 percent over a 15-year period, far less than the projected inflation rate.”

The commission voted to increase the annual salaries of state Supreme Court judges from $136,700 to $160,000 next year. The panel has approved further raises to $167,000 in 2013 and to $174,000 in 2014.

Doyle says that means judicial salaries will have risen 27 percent over a 15-year period, far less than the projected inflation rate. He says salary stagnation makes it harder to attract and retain talented judges.

Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman said in an interview that the hike for state Supreme Court judges is a good compromise in hard economic times.

“Are we disappointed it wasn’t more? Yes,” said Lippman, who advocated for the raises. “Would we want it sooner? Yes. But in these terrible times, are we pleased judges are getting raises? You bet.”

The 77,000-member association represents lawyers.

The commission, created a year ago by then-Gov. David Paterson and the Legislature, sought to find a way to break the gridlock in providing raises to judges. For years, the Legislature tied judges’ raises to those for lawmakers, which proved to be a politically dicey proposition for legislators running for office every two years.

The commission was created to take politics out of the issue. It could still be undone by an act of Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Legislature.

The commission included members appointed by the Assembly and Senate leaders, the governor and Lippmann.

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