Saturday, April 19, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Gov. Corbett's Pay Raises

The Inky reports top aides to Gov. Corbett are getting five-figure pay raises; it's good to be close to the king.

Gov. Corbett's Pay Raises

I'm not sure that pay raises going to Gov. Corbett's top aides offer the best example of the fiscally-responsible governing the governor constantly preaches but, politically, I understand why they likely do him little harm.

If you missed it, the Inky on Sunday reported that four of 15 folks on the Guv's senior staff got $10,000 raises last month.

That, for them, was a good month.

The raises come as other state agencies are crunching numbers to cut spending and as advocates for the disabled and needy are in state court challenging the administration's elimination of $200 a-month in general assistance funding.

Those getting pay bumps are deputy chiefs of staff Chris Abruzzo and Luke Bernstein, policy secretary Jen Branstetter and legislative affairs secretary Christopher Carusone.

All are seeing their annual pay go from $135,000 to $145,000.

So if any of these people owe you money, now would be a good time to collect.

The reason offered for the raises is that these people work hard.

This, of course, suggests that when they accepted their $135,000 jobs they didn't expect to work hard.

Now, on the surface, it might seem counter-intuitive that a governor and administration that preaches fiscal restraint, cuts social services and seeks to reduce or limit government spending across-the-board would be handing out 10K bonuses to its own.

But beneath the surface are two truths: it's good to be close to the king, and handing out raises isn't politically all that risky.

For example, those who take offense to political appointees grabbing fat pay increases even as the state's unemployment rate (8.2 percent) rises above the national rate for the first time in six years aren't likely to be Corbett supporters anyway.

And, in the context of the state of the state or Corbett's approval rating or a reelection bid two years from now, this is the kind of story not likely to have staying power.

I'm not suggesting it's right. And, in terms of the Guv's public image, it helps reinforce the views of those who see him as a pal of big business who cares little about the poor.

In short, it'll further irk those already irked at Corbett; and it'll fade away in the macro-politics of a reelection effort.

That said, it certainly merits a Grrrrr.

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
About this blog
John Baer has been covering politics and government for the Daily News since 1987. The National Journal in 2002 called Baer one of the country's top 10 political journalists outside Washington, saying Baer has, "the ability to take the skin off a politician without making it hurt too much." E-mail John at baerj@phillynews.com.

John is the author of the book "On The Front Lines of Pennsylvania Politics: Twenty-Five Years of Keystone Reporting" (The History Press, 2012). Reach John at baerj@phillynews.com.

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
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