Society

Governor Blocks Minimum Wage Hike, Gives Staff Raises

| by Sean Kelly
protesters advocating for a higher minimum wageprotesters advocating for a higher minimum wage

Despite blocking to raise the minimum wage across his state, Alabama Governor Robert Bentley reportedly gave four members of his cabinet $73,405 in raises in 2015.

The four cabinet members reportedly got an 80-percent jump in their annual salaries — bringing the salaries to $164,419, according to AL.com. The cabinet members who received raises were Alcoholic Beverage Control Board Administrator Mac Gipson, Department of Economic and Community Affairs Director Jim Byard, Insurance Commissioner Jim Ridling and Revenue Commissioner Julie Magee.

In addition, Medicaid Commissioner Stephanie Azar got a $64,008 raise — which brought her salary to a 45-percent raise, or $205,792.

The raises were given after a legislation was passed that removed salary caps for some cabinet positions and allowed Bentley to set new salaries based on approval by the State Personnel Board.

The previous salary cap was $91,000.

"While some raises may have been justified, I'm troubled by the amount of raises that I've read about," Senator Arthur Orr told AL.com.

Several Alabama politicians reacted to the pay increases, including the current candidate for the state board of education, Jackie Zeigler, according to Alabama Political Reporter.

"The Bentley administration says the state is broke. They have denied pay increases for teachers, State employees and retirees. They closed five State parks and cut back others. They closed 31 drivers license offices. They gutted the State Auditor’s budget. They took 100 State troopers off the road. Meanwhile, behind the scenes, they were giving themselves huge pay raises. Cutting the normal people but adding to their own pay. This needs to stop."

Republican State Rep. Allen Farley said that the House passed a "terrible" budget in which they added an amendment to take the total amount given to Bentley's staffers and put it into Medicaid.

"We are sure the Governor will veto it, but we had to send a message," Farley wrote. "If we don’t have the resources for State worker raises, we sure as heck don’t have the money for the Governor’s inner circle." 

Sources: Alabama Political Reporter, AL.com / Photo credit: Wisconsin Jobs Now/Flickr via Think Progress

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