N.C. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Aldona Wos gave some very big raises to at least two members of her leadership team.
Ricky Diaz, Wos’ communications director, and Matthew McKillip, her chief policy advisor, got April pay bumps of $23,000 and $22,500, respectively.
Diaz now makes $85,000 a year and McKillip makes $87,500, according to state employee salary information maintained on databases at the Charlotte Observer and News & Observer .
Both are 24, two years out of college and came to DHHS after working for Gov. Pat McCrory’s campaign and transition teams. Diaz also worked in McCrory’s press office shortly after McCrory was sworn in.
State employees received no raises in the recent budget, a decision that’s particularly rankled state teachers who spend 15 years in the classroom before reaching base salaries of $40,000. And Gov. McCrory issued a memo  in March directing state agencies to stop salary increases to offset an unexpected Medicaid shortfall.
Wos has declined to take a salary and is being paid $1 a year. The Greensboro physician and her husband are big donors to Republican causes, and she served as an ambassador to Estonia under President George W. Bush.
The News & Observer reported yesterday  that McKillip was promoted to the position of chief policy officer, from the DHHS senior policy advisor position he took in January.
Calls to Diaz for comments about the pay raises were not immediately returned Wednesday morning. This post will be updated if we hear back.
McKillip is now making $87,500, after an April 1 pay raise of $22,500, according to a News & Observer database  of state employee salaries. That amounts to a 35 percent increase.
McKillip’s LinkedIn profile  shows he graduated from Georgetown University and worked for a year for the conservative think-tank American Enterprise Institute  before coming to work on McCrory’s campaign.
Diaz, DHHS’ communications director, is another young rising star in Wos’ department. Now making $85,000, Diaz received a salary increase of 37 percent with his April pay raise of $23,000, according to state employee salary data .
Diaz worked previously for McCrory’s campaign and transition office, and has worked in the office of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and on the Senate campaign of U.S. Sen. Richard Burr.
Diaz’s predecessor made $78,481 a year.
The DHHS raises are much higher than what McCrory gave his cabinet secretaries when he took office in January, which continues to stir up controversy amongst teachers and others upset with the lack of pay raises in this year’s budget. McCrory gave several of his cabinet secretaries raises of 5 to 13 percent, the highest being $13,200 .
Did we miss any other big pay raises in state government that we, and the public, should know about? Let us know. You can email reporter Sarah Ovaska at firstname.lastname@example.org .