HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Governor Tom Wolf was victorious by 17 points on election night in November, but his top staffers may have been the biggest winners.
Weeks after his re-election, Wolf bumped the salaries of five deputy chiefs of staff from $115,932 to $148,069, raises of $32,137, a 28-percent hike.
“Thirty-two thousand dollar pay raises across the board for deputies in the governor’s office,” said Rep. Dan Moul (R-Adams), shaking his head. “OK, people need increases in wages, but their increase was more than my average blue-collar worker in Adams County. How do you justify that?”
Wolf’s press office is also a part of the story. Four deputy press secretaries got raises between $25,000 and $27,000.
Several other staffers got pay hikes as well and combined, they’re nearly a half-million dollars in additional payroll.
“You lump on to that the benefits that happen in state government, the healthcare and pensions that far exceed what you have in the private sector,” said Nate Benefield, of the conservative Commonwealth Foundation.
But the private sector is part of the governor’s justification. A statement from press secretary J.J. Abbott read in part:
“The governor’s office is responsible for the functions of a 70,000 person, $80 billion organization that is the second largest employer in Pennsylvania. These positions are some of the most high-level in state government, are responsible for overseeing the entire or specific work of multiple major state agencies. The salaries are competitive with senior-level private sector salaries. These staffers are expected to be on-call 24-7 to make sure the functions of the government run smoothly. Changes were made to reflect fairness for their level of work and the compensation of their peers.”
“That’s astronomical when you look at most people who work in the private sector,” Benefield said
It’s not just the size of the raises doled out by Wolf being questioned. The timing of them is as well.
“Why would you wait until after the election?” asked Moul. “That’s because you didn’t want people to get in an uproar prior to the election.”
Wolf’s statement added that those deputy chiefs of staff are only now making what Corbett’s made as they left office four years ago. The governor, of course, does not keep his salary and instead donates it to charity.