Every once in a while something happens that takes time to digest, and this story Bob Mercer wrote a couple days ago is one of them.
The political future of Jarrod Johnson beyond his current office as state school and public lands commissioner seemed uncertain Friday after his meeting with the Legislature?s Joint Committee on Appropriations.
Legislators on the panel, which oversees his office?s budget, told him they were disappointed and offended by his decision to grant raises to his staff.
Senator Deb Peters of Hartford said:
…she was appalled that Johnson gave raises while the salary line was being held by departments such as Social Services and Corrections that deal with life-and-death situations.
Johnson gave raises of 3 percent to three employees and 20 percent to a fourth employee in his six-person office.
Perhaps the issue that really caused the conflict was giving only one employee a raise of 20%.
Johnson defended his actions by saying that he still delivered on the required 10 percent cut in his office?s general-fund spending.
He repeatedly claimed the raises were necessary to keep trained staff on the payroll at key times.
Johnson?s explanation for giving the raises was punctured, however, by his answers to a series of questions by Sen. Corey Brown, R-Gettysburg. Brown is the joint committee?s Senate chairman.
Johnson?s answers to Brown showed that the only person who threatened to leave the office was the recipient of the 20 percent raise.
That raise went to Johnson?s deputy, Justin Ohleen, whose annual salary is listed at $60,000.
So who is right in this? Are the legislators correct to say that there shouldn’t be any raises, or does the office holder have the right to make decisions regarding his staff salaries as long as they fit within his budget?