Haslam: Commissioners Took $1M Pay Cut to be Here

Gov. Bill Baslam says he will make no apologies for boosting pay for top-level administrators while offering state workers a smaller pay raise package.

“I had commissioners who had very good jobs making good salaries and gave up something to come to work for the state, and I won’t apologize for that,” Haslam told state employees gathered in the Senate chamber Tuesday. “My job is to get the very best people we can to help us as we had to cut $1.8 billion out of the budget, which we’re unfortunately going to have to do.”

He said his cabinet took a combined $1 million pay cut to join his administration and leave their old jobs behind.

Haslam made the comments in response to a question from a member of the Tennessee State Employees Association: “Do you understand why this would be demoralizing to state employees who’ve been on the job for years with no raise? And do you feel the commissioners need an 11 percent raise in order to stay employed?”

State employees were gathered at the Capitol for their annual Day on the Hill event where they hear from top state lawmakers.

The chat with the governor and the chamber full of TSEA members came less than a week after news reports revealed Haslam had increased commissioners’ base salaries by 11 percent while offering other top department bosses as much as 32 percent increases.