Governor Blocks Minimum Wage Hike, Gives Own Staffers Pay Raise

Apparently, the state couldn’t increase the minimum wage by $2.85, but it could afford giving some cabinet members an 80 percent salary boost.

Thanks to the corruption in government agencies and departments, the infamous cycle of “poor getting poorer and rich getting richer” does not seem to be ending. In fact, with each passing day (and with each new bill and regulation), the problem just continues to get worse.

A recent example of this phenomenon are seen in the actions of Alabama's governor, whose state was too broke to give its minimum wage workers a pay hike worth$2.85, but was completely fine with the cabinet members receiving a massive raise.

Last month, Gov. Robert Bentley signed a bill banning Alabama cities from raising their minimum wages, while reportedly giving four of his cabinet members — who were previously making $91,000 salaries — more than $73,000 in raises.

The beneficiaries included Alcoholic Beverage Control Board Administrator Mac Gipson, who argued his previous salary wasn’t sufficient to attract the best talent from the private sector, as well as Department of Economic and Community Affairs Director Jim Byard, Revenue Commissioner Julie Magee and Insurance Commissioner Jim Ridling.

The cabinet members already paid more than double the annual average salary ($39,180) of Alabamians before the raise. 

Despite the ongoing cutbacks in the state, other cabinet members received raises up to 45 percent, while Bentley also gave 33 staff members raises ranging from $2,078 a year to $33,963.

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“The Bentley administration says the state is broke,” said Jackie Zeigler, a candidate for state board of education. “They have denied pay increases for teachers, state employees and retirees. They closed five state parks and cut back others. They closed 31 drivers’ license offices. They gutted the state auditor’s budget. They took 100 state troopers off the road. Meanwhile, behind the scenes, they were giving themselves huge pay raises. Cutting the normal people but adding to their own pay. This needs to stop.”

The raises, though approved in August, came to public’s attention earlier this week, prompting harsh criticism from both citizens and fellow Republicans. The reaction led the House of Representatives to approve an amendment to the General Fund budget, moving roughly the aggregate amount of pay raises given to staff into the General Fund.

“While some raises may have been justified, I'm troubled by the amount of raises that I've read about,” said Republican state Sen. Arthur Orr, adding the raises were “outrageous” and did not justify by comparisons with other southern states.

While Bentley has not commented on the matter yet, this is not the first time he has found himself embroiled in such a precarious situation. In 2010, he came under fire for diverting the funding from the BP oil spill grant to renovate an abandoned governor’s mansion on the Gulf Coast.

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Thumbnail/Banner Credits: Reuters

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