Louisiana’s judges would get steady pay raises over the next five years under legislation approved late Wednesday by the Louisiana Senate.

The Senate voted 27-9 to accept the recommendation of the Judicial Compensation Commission which is embodied in Senate Bill 188. The bill now heads to the House for debate.

State Sen. Danny Martiny, R-Metairie, said the commission unanimously voted for the pay raise plan that brings Louisiana’s judges pay to the southern states average and then attempt to keep up with inflation.

No new state dollars would be appropriated to cover the increases, Martiny said. The money would have to come from existing state judicial appropriations, he said.

Under the plan, Supreme Court judges would get an initial 5.5 percent raise; appeals court judges, 3.7 percent; and district court judges, 4 percent. Each group would for the next four years get a 2.1 percent increase in their pay.

“I know it’s hard to vote for a pay raise,” Martiny said, but it’s “important to maintain the quality of our judges.”

State Sen. Gerald Long, R-Winnfield, said he could not vote for pay raises for judges and other public officials while state employees go wanting. “It’s time for someone to stand up and say ‘not now’,” Long said.