Gov. Nikki Haley's 15-person staff has the highest average pay among state agencies that depend fully on taxpayer dollars, The Post and Courier's Salary Spotlight shows.

Salary Spotlight:

Search online for state employee salaries over $50,000.

The staff's average pay of $73,909 is twice as much as the Department of Disabilities and Special Needs, the state's salary bottom feeder, according to an analysis of South Carolina agencies with more than two employees.

Haley's chief of staff, Brian Stirling, is the highest paid employee at $128,750. He replaced Tim Pearson last fall.

Stirling's pay is the same as his predecessor and it eclipses his boss's. The governor's pay is set by law at $106,078.

Haley spokesman Rob Godfrey said the office has reduced its overall payroll total by not hiring when staffers left the agency.

“As is the case with any organization in the private sector, we're constantly looking for ways to make our processes and productivity even better and cut costs, and we've done those things,” he said.

The Public Service Commission has the second-highest average salary at $72,761. The commission regulates power companies and other utilities.

At the low end of the wage scale, the Department of Disabilities and Special Needs has an average salary of $27,507. The Department of Motor Vehicles has the second lowest at $30,749, followed by the Forestry Commission at $32,881.

The Department of Corrections is one of the largest agencies in the state with more than 5,400 employees, but it has fourth-lowest average salaries at $33,254.

Some quasi-government entities, such as the Medical University of South Carolina, South Carolina Research Authority and Santee Cooper, also have salary averages that exceed $70,000. However, these entities are funded primarily by revenues they generate, not taxpayers.

Salary Spotlight is The Post and Courier's data center for state and local pay.