Cabinet Pay Raises: The Point is They Didn’t Get Them

The ProJo gleefully reports (gotcha guv!) that Governor Carcieri asked for raises for his cabinet officers.

Two weeks before he first wielded his now-famous vow to eliminate 1,000 state jobs to head off a looming deficit, Governor Carcieri quietly sought four years of cumulative raises — ranging as high as $24,884 — for members of his cabinet.

Ah yes, “quietly” (ie; “sneakily”) sought the raises. Reporter Katherine Gregg seems to be parroting the Democratic line:

House Finance Chairman Steven Costantino, D-Providence, called the request “one of the more unusual I have ever seen, particularly in light of a major, major budget deficit.… It was absolutely the wrong message you wanted to send in terms of the budget…. You’d have to ask him his motivation: why are you coming to us when you can do this yourself?”
“I think many of us thought he was looking for cover and didn’t want to actually go through the public hearing process,” Costantino said.

The Governor’s spokesman refuted that speculation:

Denying the governor was driven by either motivation, Neal said Carcieri simply wanted to “regularize” the process for awarding raises, and “at the time, believed these increases would be affordable.” He said “the governor’s perspective” on the state’s fiscal situation changed dramatically two weeks later when an “unacceptable” version of the spending plan he proposed started moving through the Assembly.

It’s obvious which set of talking points Gregg chose to follow. But enough about the by-now-predictable “gotcha” tone of Gregg’s reporting on the Governor.
Let’s get the facts straight. Several of the Governor’s cabinet officers have not received raises since 2002 (even though the raises have been budgeted in for some positions, at least according to what I found while researching the DCYF budget). The Legislature and Governor have also agreed that non-union State workers should get the same 4% raises as unionized workers. Additionally:

[T]he General Assembly in June 2005 created a new procedure that requires the Department of Administration to conduct a public hearing in March each year to set directors’ salaries. It requires the administration to take into consideration the “salaries paid executive positions in other states and levels of government, and in comparable positions anywhere which require similar skills, experience, or training.” At the end of this process, the Department of Administration is required to make a recommendation to the Assembly by the end of April, to take effect automatically unless rejected by the House and Senate within 30 days.

It looks like the Legislature has nixed or left on the table most cabinet position raises year after year. The May memo sought to redress this “oversight” and to make the budgetary process more predictable by providing for automatic pay increases for these positions. I can appreciate that motivation, but there’s a point worth making here: in the end, the executive raises weren’t kept in the budget because they couldn’t be afforded.
Can the same be said for the raises for the rest of the state workforce? Of course not. Their salaries and benefits were collectively bargained and are guaranteed, no matter how dire the State’s fiscal situation. I don’t begrudge them the raises, those are the rules and they negotiated them fair and square. But it doesn’t mean that such lack of flexibility (management rights) isn’t a problem.
I don’t shed a tear for government executives making six figures not getting retroactive pay raises. Heck, I’d say we should eliminate some of those positions if we can! But most of all, I think it’s to the State’s benefit that we can freeze their salaries if the financial situation calls for it. If only we could do the same across the board.

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Greg
Greg
13 years ago

Don Carcieri. Possessor of two tin ears, a foot in his mouth and his head up his arse.
We should be proud to have a leader like him.
Regardless of any ‘reality’ this is going to get traction and his incompetent staff will give the same old half-hearted attempt to get the truth out then throw up their hands, allow the lie to become the truth, and lose another five yards in this game.

Monique
Editor
13 years ago

“there’s a point worth making here: in the end, the executive raises weren’t kept in the budget because they couldn’t be afforded.”
Exactly. Thinking about something is not the same as doing it.
“If only we could do the same across the board.”
Yes. Questions.
Will Messrs. Murphy and Montalbano be returning their two Eddie Bauer designer SUV’s, leased to the tax dollar tune of $58,000? Is what Helen Glover said this morning true: that members of the Legislature receive an automatic 3% raise every year? If so, will they be rescinding or returning that raise? And where do we stand with the General Assembly’s shrouded in mystery, off-the-budget multi-million dollar slush fund? Is that still in existance? Why?

Marc Comtois
13 years ago

Monique, tough to tell what the members of the GA make. If you check out the Legislature’s budget supplement, you’ll find that, strangely, those numbers are LEFT BLANK. Huh.

Tim
Tim
13 years ago

Greg,
The governor didn’t do anything wrong. What is this rant about? We have certain elements within the Rhode Island media (Projo Taricani Rappleye) in complete collusion with the unions in trying to destroy the man. Shouldn’t that be where your anger lies? Angry about the lies and disinformation campaign currently ongoing with the state’s largest newspaper and certain TV reporters at channel 10? Hate to think this liberal media cabal is manipulating you. The governor is not perfect and he has certainly made many a mistake along the way but he works hard he genuinely cares and most certainly doesn’t deserve the orchestrated media lynching that’s underway in certain quarters. All I can say is thank god for talk radio. Imagine the impact the media had on hearts and minds when their lies and agenda of manipulation went unchecked for decades? Scary stuff!

Greg
Greg
13 years ago

My anger comes from the impotence of this governor and his staff’s functional retardism. They have Steve Kass but they hide him in a closet somewhere and let him out twice a year so they can vacuum under him.
STEVE KASS IS RHODE ISLAND! Put him in front of every camera and microphone and 25% of the people will believe it if he says the sky is on fire. People respect him and trust him. Even people who don’t vote Republican are confident that a man that spend decades calling it like he saw it is going to shovel crap at them.
So who’s the Gov’s spokesman? Jeff BLANKIN Neil. Phew. What was his limp-wristed half-response to the crisis now?
I’m mad because we’re right here and the taxpayers WANT to get behind what the governor is doing and he somehow can’t get it done.

Monique
Editor
13 years ago

No question Kass is vastly under-utilized and that should change. But your first comment on this thread was off the mark, Greg. Backing up a little, the Governor handled the interpreter situation very well indeed. Then came the raise memo, which really was an (old) attack out of left field and was not a case of the Governor communicating badly. And when it was launched, he quickly got out an excellent press release calling on the Legislature to turn back their very REAL raises. Is it possible you are judging him on prior instances when he was less aggressive?
As to how the media handled the raise memo, it appears that the ProJo and Channel 10 are basically the Thought Police. They convicted him of just thinking about something – the same something actually carried out by the Legislature. It’s a little scary, not to mention one sided, to attack someone for thinking about a “crime” but then close your eyes to a whole group of people actually committing that “crime”.

allyn mccaul
allyn mccaul
8 years ago

everyone else in state hurting,goverment needs money what makes them special.

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