Political Notes — 3% pay raises? Not for these officials

[private]When the new fiscal year begins on July 1, most state employees and teachers will receive 3 percent increases in their salaries — the first raise in years for many of them.

The Board of Regents, which has been rather lavish in doling out salary increases and perks to its college presidents in recent years, went along with that budget limitation.

Most of the presidential pay raises this year were in the range of 1.5 to 3 percent, with the exception of 5 percent increases for Cheryl Dozier of Savannah State and Bonita Jacobs of North Georgia.

Some employees won’t get a pay raise at all, such as the top aides to Gov. Nathan Deal.

A few officials, on the other hand, are in line to receive huge bumps in their compensation with the start of the new fiscal year.

The State Transportation Board voted Monday to give DOT Commissioner Russell McMurry a 35.1 percent pay raise from $185,000 to $250,000 per year.

McMurry has handled a couple of major projects since he took over the top job from Keith Golden last year.  He denied the application of Kinder Morgan for a permit for a controversial pipeline in the eastern part of the state and he oversaw the massive influx of tax revenues to DOT from an increase in the motor fuel excise tax.

“The board is pleased with Commissioner McMurry’s vision, leadership and direction of GDOT and felt his salary should be adjusted commensurate with his performance,” Transportation Board Chairwoman Emily Dunn said in a statement.

A smaller but still substantial pay raise was approved by the state ethics commission for their executive secretary, Stefan Ritter.  He’s going from $165,000 to $181,500 a year.

Ritter, a former assistant attorney general, is credited with bringing stability to the troubled agency and with reducing a huge backlog of ethics complaints.

“He brings a credibility to the ethics commission that is welcome and will serve us well,” said Chairman Lawton Jordan.

Olens recognized

Attorney General Sam Olens has been elected vice president of the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG). Olens will also serve on committees overseeing federalism/preemption issues, law enforcement and prosecutorial relations, internet safety/cyber privacy, and human trafficking.

Chief Deputy Attorney General Jeff Milsteen was given the NAAG Senior Staff Member of the Year Award.

Personnel moves

Leigh Claffey, who had worked for U.S. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland for the past four and a half years, is leaving to become the press secretary for Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa.  Cason Hightower will take over the media duties for the rest of Westmoreland’s term.

“Should you find yourself dabbling in Iowa politics or hanging out in Des Moines, you now have an ally in the cornfields,” Claffey said in an email to reporters.

© 2016 by The Georgia Report

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Tags: Leigh Claffey , pay raises , Russell McMurry , Sam Olens , Stefan Ritter