The meeting held at 8:30am on Friday morning to hear public commentary on Governor Gina Raimondo‘s proposed salary increases for six state department director posts was predictably not well intended. Four people showed up to speak out against the Governor’s proposal. Only Jon Duffy, the co-chair of Governor Raimondo’s transition team, spoke in favor of the pay increase.
Jonathan Wormer, Director of the Office of Management and Budget, laid out the case for increasing the salaries of the directors of the departments of Mental Health, Retardation & Hospitals; Business Regulation; Environmental Management; Human Services; Labor & Training and Transportation to $135,000, a raise of between $5 and $34 thousand.
Most of the speakers wondered how the Governor could justify a pay increase given that she has made big moves in the course of her political career to cut both public sector employee pensions and Medicaid. As for the idea that such pay increases are necessary to attract the talent the job positions require, Todd Sandahl pointed out that these jobs are already filled.
“Are they planning to leave?” asked Sandahl.
Kevin Loontjens of Coventry questioned the idea of comparing the salaries to those for similar positions in Massachusetts and Connecticut. Loontjens said that states like New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine and Delaware are better comparisons because the are more similar to Rhode Island in terms of population size and tax base.
The meeting was recorded and a transcript will be provided to the Governor for her perusal. She could save herself the trouble and watch the video below: