More Than 60 Top Staffers In State Legislature Drawing Six-Figure Salaries

cannonharidopolosEditor’s Note – Well, overall, there was a decrease in salaries…

In a follow up to a story posted on OPP Wednesday stating that federal government salaries averaged $123,049 in 2009, compared to a $61,051 average for private workers, it seems Tallahassee is striving to stay on par with the big boys in D.C.

Point of reference – An elementary school teacher in their fourth year of service in Orange County makes $37,000 a year and has not seen a pay increase from day one on the job.  Furthermore, it was recently announced that this same teacher will not see an increase next year and may even possibly be dealt a 10% paycut!  

How’s that for incentive!  After five years of service!  And this teacher is molding and shaping our most valuable commodity, our children.

With record unemployment in the state and small businesses struggling to keep the doors open, with a sizable budget shortfall expected next year in Tallahassee and many expected to make the necessary sacrifice, why is it that our government continues to operate unimpeded?  Is there a different standard for some?  The elite?

And, is this yet another indication that the Republican juggernaut here in Florida, right out of the gate, is failing to ‘walk the walk’?  A clear message was sent on November 2nd…


More Than 60 Top Staffers In Legislature Drawing Six-Figure Salaries

By Michael C. Bender
Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau

TALLAHASSEE — To help shrink state government, the new leaders of the Legislature have brought in a stable of advisers at six-figure salaries.

In the House, incoming Speaker Dean Cannon has given salaries of at least $100,000 to 28 staffers. In the Senate, 33 will earn six figures under incoming President Mike Haridopolos.

Both leaders say the pay is justified for their skilled workers, yet the numbers stand out in a state where average wages are stagnating, One million Floridians can’t find work, and Gov.-elect Rick Scott wants to eliminate up to 6,000 state jobs.

Haridopolos and Cannon, who must fill a projected $3 billion budget hole, said costs were trimmed elsewhere in the Legislature’s budget. Haridopolos, for example, has consolidated numerous jobs with a stated goal of cutting $1 million from the Senate’s $35.5 million budget.

“We’ve got to lead by example,” said Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island.

The payroll in the Senate president’s administrative office exceeds $1.1 million — about 25 percent more than the wages in the speaker’s office across the hall in the Capitol. Haridopolos’ chief of staff and general counsel, Stephen MacNamara, is the highest-paid legislative staffer, earning $175,008.

Still, Haridopolos has trimmed his own administrative office payroll by 12 percent in a year when state employees have endured the fifth consecutive year without a cost-of-living increase.

Cannon said the House overall is saving money because of staff reductions, many of which took place under his predecessors. The House budget has dropped 12 percent since 2007, while the total state budget has dropped 2 percent.

“We’ve done what a lot of private sector companies have done,” Cannon said. “We’ve given people raises where they were merited and let people go when it was warranted.”

While Haridopolos’ staff reductions and penny pinching have received media attention, Cannon’s personnel moves haven’t attracted the same level of scrutiny until now.

Public records show Cannon has increased salaries in the speaker’s office by 1.5 percent. The top salary is $147,865 for chief of staff Mathew Bahl.

Bahl was director of Cannon’s Select Policy Council on Strategic & Economic Planning during the 2010 legislative session. He was director of the majority whip’s office in 2007-08 under then-Rep. Ellyn Bogdanoff, R-Fort Lauderdale, and ran the successful 2004 House campaign of Republican Trey Traviesa, R-Tampa.

Others in Cannon’s office:

• Lynn Cobb, deputy chief of staff for policy. Cobb will earn $121,630, a 4 percent increase from a similar job she held under Speaker Larry Cretul. Cobb retired in 2009 as director of the House Education Council.

• Michelle Davila, deputy chief of staff for administration. Davila will earn $110,205, which is a 16 percent increase from her previous job as director of operations under Cretul.

• Todd Reid, deputy chief of staff for process. Reid, the former director of the House Majority Office, will earn $108,673.

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