When Gov. Dan Malloy’s budget director Ben Barnes announced two days before Christmas that some Malloy appointees would be getting pay raises, the criticism was certainly predictable (if somewhat unfair). Now the head of state Republican Party is objecting, a full week after the fact.
Barnes made the announcement and Malloy has already defended it to the news media before GOP chair Jerry Labriola put out a statement Tuesday objecting to the pay hikes. Labriola apparently was waiting for the University of Connecticut trustees to give a hefty raise to school President Susan Herbst before making a sort of joint objection.
Of the raises for the Malloy people Labriola said, “Granting lavish 12% pay raises to political appointees when the state faces yet another significant budget deficit is reckless and signifies a serious issue with the priorities of the Malloy administration. Governor Malloy knows that this was an irresponsible decision, which is why he waited until after the election and, in fact, the day before Christmas Eve to announce the salary increases for his friends,” he said.
Anyone who gets a raise in state government is predictably a punching bag for the opposition (and many times the public). Malloy has already been forced to defend his decision. It’s a bit silly to question why Malloy didn’t announce the raises before the election. The Shad’s guess is that pay raises for his people was the last thing on his mind before last November. In any event, Malloy said the decision on the raises hadn’t been made back then.
To his credit (if you hold his point of view), incoming Senate Republican Leader Len Fasano was all over the pay raise issue, the day after Christmas. “I think it’s disingenuous to the public … to announce it at 4:32 on the day before Christmas Eve. They knew darn well long before that that they’d be getting it done.” Fasano also called it “egregious” to grant the raises “as we’re looking at a multibillion-dollar deficit. … I think it’s crazy and I think it’s unnecessary,” he said.
Of Herbst’s raise Labriola said, “Additionally [to Malloy peeps’ extra bucks], at a time when the cost of higher education seems to be growing exponentially and students are graduating with more debt than ever before, it sends the wrong message for the UConn president to be receiving massive pay increases and additional bonuses on top of a contract that already includes two houses and a chauffeur. Maybe next time instead of raising tuition again we can ask President Herbst to drive her own car or live in only one house.” Fair enough. Except that Malloy has absolutely nothing to do with her salary increase, what she drives or where she lives.