Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The high (paid) and the mighty

Journalism at its best points out contradictions, and Advocate reporter Michelle Millhollen points well in this article about the salaries paid to the highest ranking members of state government.

If you want, skip the first few paragraphs that talk about the $70,000-plus paid to college professors and researchers at facilities like the Pennington Biomedical Research Center. Or at least compare their salaries to the earnings of others in their fields around the nation. Louisiana does not stack up well.

The contradictions begin to show when we get to the salaries paid to political appointees close to the governor's office. The well-connected include 20 of the governor's closest aides, who earn more than Bobby Jindal's $130,000 salary, and the 56 people in the Division of Administration who earn more than $100,000.

At the top of the totem pole are folks like Economic Development Secretary Stephen Moret, whose $319,999 salary is among the highest in the nation, or Superintendent of Education Paul Pastorek, whose $341,170 tops all others in the South.

When the governor bumped their salaries last year, he said it was because you have to pay the top salaries to get the top people in the posts. That is a concept that does not trickle down to the ranks of educators and other public servants in Louisiana.

As some lawmakers point out in the article, the biggest contradiction is still to come. Because of the current economic crisis, layoffs are under consideration on the lower rungs of the state employment ladder, but none in the rarefied atmosphere of the administration's highest levels.

To see who in state government earns more than $70,00 per year, please click here.

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