Haley administration officials get raises; salary total down
EDITOR’S NOTE: Earlier versions of this story incorrectly stated the number of employees who left and were not replaced under Gov. Nikki Haley’s administration. The Post and Courier regrets the error.
COLUMBIA — Should Gov. Nikki Haley have returned thousands to the state instead of doling out raises to four employees?
That’s the question Democrats were asking Friday after learning of the pay bumps, which came despite an overall decrease in the Haley administration’s salary total.
The reduction of 9 percent (excluding the 3 percent raises all state employees received in July) is possible because Haley’s office hasn’t replaced one employee left and other staffers have taken on additional duties as workers left the administration.
Haley spokesman Rob Godfrey said the raises and shifts in responsibilities within the office, which have taken place as each former employee departed, were part of an effort to make sure the office runs as effectively and efficiently as possible.
Much of the money used to fund the salary increases, which total $29,000 without the automatic raises, would have gone back to state general fund coffers had the cash gone unused.
According to the S.C. Comptroller General’s Office, a state budget proviso allows agencies to carry forward only up to 10 percent of unused general funds to the next fiscal year.
Amanda Loveday, executive director of the S.C. Democratic Party, said the money for raises could have been used elsewhere.
“That could have gone to pay a new teacher, but instead she raised the already-high salaries of her staff,” she said.
Haley took criticism as she took office in January 2011 for doling out large salary increases to some aides relative tosalaries for similar postions in former Gov. Mark Sanford’s administration.
Excluding the new 3 percent raises, the four Haley staff members who received pay bumps are:
Ted Pitts, deputy chief of staff ($12,000)
Godfrey, press secretary ($7,000)
Josh Baker, budget manager ($5,000)
Katherine Veldran, legislative liaison ($5,000)
Godfrey said the raises were awarded as the employees took on additional duties.
Since Haley took office, six employees have departed.
One, former cabinet liaison Taylor Hall, has not been replaced. Another employee who was full-time now works part-time. A former policy adviser was promoted, and his role was filled by a new employee, although with a different job title.
The most high-profile staffing change involves Christian Soura, who initially made $1 a year while working as a special assistant to Haley.
He took over former deputy chief of staff Trey Walker’s position and more than $122,000 salary when Walker departed last year.
Loveday and a conservative think-tank leader said the fact that employees remaining in the administration have been able to take on former colleagues’ duties in addition to their own raises questions about whether the former employees needed to have been there in the first place.
“Explain to me the relevance of those people who were there if four people can do their job and only do it half time because those people already had jobs.” Loveday said.
Ashley Landess, president of the S.C. Policy Council, said it was “the right thing to do” for Haley’s administration to reduce its salary total. “However, it does raise the question why were there so many people on the front end, what were they doing? We need to know what those people were doing,” she said.
Godfrey said the administration is operating more effectively while using less money.
“As is the case with any organization in the private sector, we’re constantly looking for ways to reorganize to make our processes and productivity even better. We’re proud of the results our staff has and will continue to deliver for the people of our state.”
Reach Stephen Largen at 864-641-8172 and follow him on Twitter @stephenlargen.