Governor Bentley gives raises to members of his cabinet during round of cuts

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) — Governor Robert Bentley has increased the salaries of many of his cabinet members despite the ongoing cuts in many state agencies.

ABC Board Administrator Mac Gipson, ADECA Director Jim Byard, Revenue Commissioner Julie Magee and Insurance Commissioner Jim Ridling each got $73,405 raises in October of 2015, according to the State Personnel Department.

Their annual salaries went from $91,014 to $164,419, according to Deputy Director of the Alabama Personnel Department Alice Byrne.

Alabama Medicaid Commissioner and General Counsel Stephanie Azar received a $64,008 raise bringing her annual salary to $205,792, according to Byrne.

Deputy Director of the Alabama Personnel Department, Alice Byrne, stated that until last year salaries for department heads were capped around $91,000 a year and department heads were often supervising people who were earning considerably more than them.

Before the cap was lifted, people were being placed in other positions to get by the salary caps, according to Byrne. She says a number of people in charge of major departments are acting directors, with different titles.

Byrne says they did a survey to show what the salary was for various positions in different states before recommending changes to the Alabama Legislature in 2015.

“Ridley was making 76% of the surrounding states,” said Byrne.

The raises reportedly took effect in Oct. 2015, when state agencies were making cuts and state services were being reduced.

“I firmly believe that for every percentage that they reduce our debt, that’s what they should get as a pay raise,” taxpayer Daniel Holcombe said.

Taxpayer Sean Skoglund had a more cynical take on the pay hikes.

“It’s just typical politics, all they really care about is making their money,” Skoglund.said. “They don’t really care who it affects as long as they’re still getting their money.”

Governor Bentley released the following statement to CBS 42 News on Wednesday.

Byrne, told WIAT that until last year salaries for department heads were capped around $91,000 a year, and department heads were often supervising people who were earning considerably more than them.

Before the cap was lifted, people were being placed in other positions to get by the salary caps, according to Byrne. She says a number of people in charge of major departments are acting directors, with different titles.

“For example John Cooper was actually made an Assistant Director of Homeland Security making $164-169 (thousand), but he was actually acting transportation director,” said Byrne.

The Deputy Personnel Director says they did a survey to show the salaries for various positions in different states before recommending changes to the Alabama Legislature in 2015.

“Ridley was making 76% of the surrounding states,” said Byrne.

Bentley released the following statement to WIAT.

“In 2015, the Alabama Legislature passed a bill that requires salaries of cabinet members, assistant cabinet members, assistant department heads and other officers and employees appointed in the exempt service be fixed in accordance with recommendations by the State Personnel Board of appropriate pay ranges within the state pay plan. The Personnel Board approved the pay ranges for the Governor’s cabinet at its August 2015 meeting. This legislation was long overdue, and allows state government to be competitive with the private sector in getting highly qualified people to run important state agencies that provide vital services to our citizens. I make no apology for the salary increase for my cabinet and staff. I appreciate their outstanding service to the people of our state.”

 

 

 

 

 

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