While significant challenges remain, it appears that the worst of North Carolina’s ongoing budget crisis is past. Still, Gov. Pat McCrory’s decision to raise the salaries for his cabinet secretaries raises eyebrows.
According to the Associated Press, four of the people holding the posts will draw an annual salary of $128,000, while three others will be paid $135,000.
We don’t have a problem with those figures when viewed alone — surely those overseeing massive state agencies are worth of that level of salary — but we do question them when viewed through the prism of all that has happened in North Carolina over the past four years.
Those cabinet positions paid $120,000 under former Gov. Bev Perdue, and when you consider the raises will add less than $100,000 in expenditures in a nearly $20 billion state general fund, the totals are insignificant.
But those figures represent raises of 6.7 percent to 12.5 percent for those positions. At a time when other public employees are being asked to do without raises, or with token pay increases, school systems across the state are having to cut positions because of state budget decreases, and local governments are seeing state funding cuts, giving these sorts of pay increases to state cabinet positions simply sends the wrong message.
While the governor said the pay hikes are needed to attract high-quality people, the truth is these positions are, at least in part, doled out to folks who have contributed to McCrory’s campaign, or long-time GOP supporters. Attracting candidates shouldn’t be a problem.
There is one notable exception to the higher pay for these positions. ldona Wos, who has been appointed as cabinet secretary in health and human services — is accepting only a $1 salary. At least she understands this is an opportunity for public service, not a chance to build her bank account.