Republican legislators are upset by the salaries — and bonuses — paid to some of Democrat Governor Tom Vilsack’s aides and top managers. Senator Mary Lundby, a Republican from Marion, is co-chair of the Legislative Oversight Committee.Lundby says lawmakers are “pretty disgusted” by the pay for some state employees.Lundby says bonuses for department directors have been abused. Lundby says department heads took the job knowing what the pay scale was, and they shouldn’t expect “a large bonus.” Another complaint: Vilsack is getting around the budget set for his office staff by paying some of his staff with money allotted to state agencies. Lundby says Republican legislators don’t understand why Vilsack insists that state agencies “pay” six-hundred thousand dollars to cover the salaries of folks who work in the Governor’s office. Lundby says it’s particularly troubling given the tight budget times. Dr. Stephen Gleason, Vilsack’s chief of staff, defends that practice. Gleason says some of the people on the Governor’s staff serve as a liaison with certain departments, and their work is primarily in that area. Gleason argues Vilsack is operating a tight ship. Gleason says using data from the National Governors Association, Iowa should have about 49 employees if it had an “average” number of staffers, and Gleason says Vilsack’s staff is “far below that” number. As far as those bonuses for state agency heads are concerned, Gleason is making no apologies.Gleason says some managers were hired with the promise of a bonus, and he says that extra pay was necessary to get the “skill level” necessary for the job. Eight of the employees on the Governor’s personal staff are paid with money from other state agencies. For example, Matt Paul — the Governor’s press secretary who is currently on unpaid leave — has his salary covered by the Iowa Lottery and the Governor’s policy director gets his salary covered by the Iowa Department of Economic Development.
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