As a former state employee who’s married to a state employee and has known a lot of talented, hard-working state employees, I know it’s not cool for me to say this but some of the paychecks that some of these folks bring home are ludicrous.
Having said that, the effort by Michigan’s top dogs to take away state employee benefits and force union concessions while paying themselves enough to afford champagne wishes and caviar dreams is really offensive.
Governor Rick Snyder, a multi-millionaire, makes almost $160,000. His lieutenant, Brian Calley, is paid $111,500. Lawmakers make $71,685, not including their supplemental salaries. (The Speaker of the House gets an additional $24,300; the Senate Majority Leader brings home an additional $23,400; and even the Minority Floor Leader enjoys a $9,000 supplement.) Snyder's minions are doing okay too:
- John Nixon, the 38-year-old state budget director from Utah, makes almost $115,000 more than what his predecessor earned.
- Agriculture and Rural Affairs director Keith Creagh and Environmental Quality director Dan Wyant are being paid $5,000 more than their predecessors.
- Transportation director Kirk Steudle got a $5,000 raise.
- The highest earner in the Executive Office is chief of staff Dennis Muchmore at $171,000. Deputy chief of staff Jeff Barnes makes $145,000; senior advisor Dick Posthumus is paid $170,000.
- Communications director Geralyn Lasher, strategy director Bill Rustem, external relations director Terri Reid, legal counsel Mike Gadola, and Washington, D.C. office director Bill McBride are paid $140,000 each.
- Office manager Allison Scott is pulling down $120,000 and administration director Marsha Quebbeman is raking in $100,000.
Will someone please tell me why the governor’s office manager needs to be paid $120,000? No wonder state employee morale is low and many of the common folks are opting to retire. Maybe someone can conduct a study to determine how the mass exodus is going to impact the quality and availability of the government services that taxpayers demand but allegedly don’t want to pay for.
Now the State Officers Compensation Commission (SOCC) – the body charged with determining the salaries and expense allowances of the governor and lieutenant governor, legislators, attorney general, secretary of state and Supreme Court justices – is recommending that the Supremes receive a three percent raise in 2013 and another three percent increase the following year. Their salaries would go up to $169,548 in 2013 and $174,634 in 2014. And since the salaries of the more than 600 other state judges are tied to the Supreme Court level, they also receive increases.
The seven members of the SOCC are appointed by the governor.
I’m tired of hearing that we need to pay exorbitant salaries in order to attract top talent. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Michigan’s unemployment rate is over 10 percent. I’m willing to bet employers don’t need to struggle too hard to find applicants in today’s economy who are qualified and would accept less than a king’s ransom to take the jobs.
By the way, there’s a website run by the Lansing State Journal that allows you to find out what most state employees are paid. I made the mistake of looking up what Ex-wife Number One makes one time. That’s when I learned there is no god.
Sources: Detroit Free Press, Gongwer News Service, Michigan Department of Civil Service, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.