Viewpoint: Ryan pay hikes upset watchdog groups

Viewpoint: Ryan pay hikes upset watchdog groups

By Joe Baker

By Joe Baker

Senior Editor

Little was published or broadcast here about it, but the rest of the state paid considerable attention to Gov. George Ryan’s recent action in hoosting the pay of his department heads by a beefy 12 to 16 percent.

Ryan claims the raises are necessary in order to keep good, competent people in these jobs. Competency could be questioned with some of them.

Ann Patla, for instance. She is Public Aid director and supervised a program of child-support check distribution that misdirected and lost thousands of checks. Her salary was hiked to $117,000, an increase of $5,500.

Then there was Donnie Snyder, who heads the Department of Corrections. He was caught using a state airplane for personal and political trips and had to repay the treasury several thousand dollars. His pay was cranked $3,230 to $123,500 per year.

The biggest increase went to Nat Shapo, who heads the Department of Insurance. His pay jumps 16 percent to $109,500. Raises of 14 percent went to Mike Chamness, director of the Illinois Emergency Management Agency; to John Johnston, director of the Department of Veterans Affairs; and to David Harris of the Department of Military Affairs. They all get $95,000 instead of $83,238.

Jess McDonald, director of DCFS, gets more than 13 percent additional pay, going from $108,938 to $123,500. Secretary of the Department of Transportation, Kirk Brown, will see his paycheck jump from $111,554 to $123,500. Linda Baker and Dr. John Lumpkin, who head the Department of Human Services and the Department of Public Health respectively, will draw that same amount each.

Ryan’s general counsel, Diane Ford; Deputy Governors Hazel Loucks and Matt Bettenhausen; policy director Bridget Lamont; and deputy chiefs of staff Kevin Wright and Rich Juliano will be paid $117,000 each.

Robert Newtson, Ryan’s chief of staff, goes from $114,996 to $125,000. The governor’s press secretary, Dennis Culloton, gets a $12,000 pay hike to $107,500.

Ryan himself is paid $145,877 a year.

The increases drew a sharp retort from Jim Howard, director of Illinois Common Cause, a citizen watchdog group. “I got to tell you,” Howard said, “this is atrocious. This is a pork-based administration deep-fried in more fat. The symbol of this administration ought to be a pig on a spit with an apple shoved in its mouth.”

These raises just add insult to perjury, I mean injury, when considering Ryan’s tax hikes in the past. Read those lips, and grab your wallet.

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