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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Rick Scott gives minions high salaries

From the Florida Tribune

By: Bruce Ritchie

State employees haven't received a raise in more than four years, but most agency heads that Gov. Rick Scott has appointed are making $20,000 a year more than their predecessors.

Scott has named 10 new department heads with salaries of $140,000 compared to $120,000 or less for their predecessors, according to a web site database launched by the governor.

Scott this past week named three agency secretaries, with both Ken Lawson at the Department of Business and Professional Regulation and Dr. Frank Farmer, secretary of the Department of Health, earning will $140,000 compared to $120,000 for their predecessors. Liz Dudek was elevated to secretary of the Agency for Health Care Administration at $140,000 a year compared to $164,380 for her predecessor, Tom Arnold.

Asked this week why he was paying most of his secretaries significantly more when state employees haven't been given a raise, Scott did not directly answer the question. Instead he said that state employees are "very hard working people."

"And they clearly are doing a great job for the citizens of our state," Scott told reporters. "And I want to make sure I do everything I can to make sure we get the best people and we pay them a fair wage."

Some former agency heads now are making more money under Scott than when they previously served as heads of those agencies.

Secretary of State Kurt Browning is receiving $140,000 now compared to the $120,000 he received secretary of state from 2007 to April 2010, when he resigned his position. Browning was enrolled in the Deferred Retirement Option Program and was required to resign in 2010. He received a lump sum payment of nearly $500,000.

At the Division of Emergency Management, former Director Dave Halstead now receives $110,000, which is $5,000 more than he received as director in 2010. Scott appointed Bryan Koon in February to take over the division with a salary of $140,000 per year. A division spokesman earlier this month said Halstead remains there because of his valuable experience in dealing with disasters.

Eight department heads apparently continue to work under Scott for the same salaries they received in 2010 under Gov. Charlie Crist. The salaries of former agency heads can be accessed at another database established in 2009 by WTSP in Tampa.

The highest paid among them is Maj. Gen. Emmett R. Titshaw, Jr., who receives $157,251 as adjutant general in charge of the Department of Military Affairs.

Scott on March 17 announced that he was launching the web site, which contains databases of state employee salaries, state contracts and other information.

“This useful tool enhances public access to government records so taxpayers can see how their tax dollars are being spent,” Scott said in a news release.

Originally published in the Florida Current - exclusively distributed via Lobbytools - Florida's Premiere Legislative and Media Monitoring Service.

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