McCrory office on $ 22,000 DHHS raises: No comment (to us), defends salaries to TV station (with update)

Yesterday, we posted this piece about two young staffers at the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services who received $22,500 and $23,000 raises after working just a few months in state government.

Gov. McCrory

Gov. McCrory

Matthew McKillip, DHHS Secretary Aldona Wos’ chief policy officer, is now making $87,500 (a 35 percent bump in pay) and Ricky Diaz, the DHHS communications director, earns $85,000 a year after a 37 percent pay increase.

Both are 24 and worked on McCrory’s campaign and transition teams before coming to DHHS. Click here to read the original post.

We called McCrory’s office for a response and were told today the governor’s office wouldn’t be commenting.

UPDATE: It appears McCrory did speak with WNCN, a Raleigh TV news station on Thursday afternoon. He defended the raises as the results of promotions, and said he’d like to give teachers raises too.

From their article:

“[Diaz] was in my office as a communications person, working as a lower level communications person in the governor’s office,” McCrory said Thursday. “My Health and Human Services Secretary [Aldona Wos] was so impressed with him, she wanted him to move to Health and Human Services and head up that whole process.”

The 35 and 37 percent pay increases come at a time when most other state employees, like public school teachers, received no raise at all in the state’s new two-year budget.

When pressed on the issue of teacher pay, he added, “I want teachers to make a lot more. I want teachers to make what TV anchors get paid too.”

McCrory instructed state departments to freeze pay increases in a March memorandum, citing a Medicaid shortfall as the reason why state agencies needed to be conservative with their spending. He did propose a 1 percent pay increase for state workers in his budget, but lawmakers opted not to include that in the final budget.

“It is time to solve this mess, not kick the can down the road and manipulate the budget as was done in the past,” McCrory was quoted as saying in a March 8 press release from his office. “It stops now.”

The press release went on to describe how McCrory “directed state agencies to hold salary increases, limit purchases and reduce travel to cover the state’s Medicaid liabilities.”

Calls placed to Diaz yesterday morning seeking comment about the raises have not been returned.

PhC_181_McCrory_ElectionNite_CharlotteObs

Gov. McCrory on election night. Ricky Diaz is to the right of his shoulder, and Matt McKillip is on the far right, with a blue lanyard. Source: Charlotte Observer photo donated to the. N.C State Archives

Link to photo here.

 

43 Comments

  1. CJ Flay

    August 15, 2013 at 2:02 pm

    and there is no money for education?

  2. Alan

    August 15, 2013 at 3:43 pm

    Fantastic! Yet more money being thrown at sick people. I just can’t understand why they can’t pull themselves up by the bootstraps, even the legless ones.

    This money would have been much better spent enforcing creationism in our “broken” public education system science classrooms.

    Fart Pope must be outraged by this. Sick people in the state he just purchased being forced into a socialist healthcare system. What next? Communism?

  3. david esmay

    August 15, 2013 at 3:46 pm

    Is this a picture of McCrony getting a prostrate exam? I can’t see the what the guy behind Pat is doing with his hands, but he seems pretty happy about it.

  4. Mike Potter

    August 15, 2013 at 5:09 pm

    My tax dollars don’t pay TV anchors, Pat. Those salaries are ridiculous compared to others with similar education, training, experience and responsibilities. Three more years, sir.

  5. blp

    August 15, 2013 at 5:12 pm

    “prostrate” exam ??

  6. Barbara Dantonio

    August 15, 2013 at 5:12 pm

    This is shameful and a real slap in the face to the educators in this state who have been given the shaft by this administration. Shame on you Governor McCrory, you have no conscience.

  7. Gwen Robbins

    August 15, 2013 at 5:25 pm

    Wow. It would be interesting to see where these jobs were advertised and what the applicant pool looks like. It seems truly incredible that these two 24 year old campaign staffers just happened to be the most qualified applicants for these senior level administrative positions. Amazing that they were stuck working low level positions before and now their “talents have been recognized” and rewarded with high paying, senior level positions. I think an investigation into the hiring process is called for.

  8. Melanie Miday-Stern

    August 15, 2013 at 5:44 pm

    I can’t fathom a 24 year old making that kind of money when a Master Degree teacher can’t even make ends meet! What does a 24 year old need w/ $87,000+ a year?

  9. Kristi Nobers

    August 15, 2013 at 6:28 pm

    What criteria was used to determine that these kids were qualified for such a position and salary?

  10. emd

    August 15, 2013 at 8:15 pm

    That picture really demonstrates the diversity of the Republican party

  11. Alan

    August 15, 2013 at 8:50 pm

    I’m not sure about NC law, but can our Governor be recalled??

  12. Lynda Pilgreen

    August 15, 2013 at 9:08 pm

    I’d love to make what the two “boys” made BEFORE the pay increase! More than what I’m making now after having taught for 25 years.

  13. WE

    August 15, 2013 at 9:11 pm

    Everyone, we need to get over the gov’s howdy-doody smile. His reference to TV anchor’s salary is a dig with no remorse. The 2016 elections cannot get here soon enough!

  14. Peggy Raymes

    August 15, 2013 at 9:41 pm

    Dear Governor McCrory,
    I am the principal at Margaret Willis Elementary school in Cumberland County. I have a dedicated staff that has been working “on their own time” this summer to be ready for our boys and girls next week. They have not been paid to attend training or prepare classrooms during their ” vacation.” They do this because they are dedicated professionals who see the big picture, when it comes to the impact and the value of public education, on our future. I am concerned that the 2 young men referenced in this report have been awarded substantial pay increases because of their job performance. I am extremely discouraged that these 2 young men were given those pay increases when I have teachers in my building who have been working for 8 years, and are still only receiving a ” 3rd year ” teacher salary. I am struggling to understand what type of job performance constitutes a 37% salary increase, when the students at my school, (with a free and reduced lunch population of 80%), have made high academic growth for the past 5 years on our NC End of Grade tests. Would that type of job performance not warrant some type of salary increase? As a veteran educator with 30 years of experience, and as a Commissioner from Stedman, N.C. I would respectfully like to request the opportunity to sit down and talk with you, Governor; but what I would really like to happen, is for you and my legislators to come and spend one day at Margaret Willis Elementary School, or any public school in NC, for that matter. I believe that after that encounter you would be able to find alternative measures for balancing the state budget. I do not believe you are the kind of man who would sacrifice the future of the children of our state, but I do believe that you are listening to advisors who do not have a clear picture of the benefits of a sound and free public education; nor do they understand the impact their recent decisions are having on our schools, and ultimately the future of our state. So, my question, Governor McCrory….do we give 37% pay increases to young men who worked for your campaign, or do we pay the teachers in North Carolina a fair wage? I look forward to hearing from you.
    Respectfully,
    Peggy Raymes
    Principal
    Margaret Willis Elementary School
    910-484-9064

  15. Alan

    August 15, 2013 at 11:10 pm

    Peggy,

    Thank You. My wife works in WCPSS and I share your sentiment. However, I do not think that this governor has the decency to come and talk with you. You are not his pay-master, so your opinion/comments don’t count for anything. I’d be interested in hearing what, if any, respone you get.

  16. D

    August 15, 2013 at 11:35 pm

    Thanks Ms. Raymes. I work in Cumberland County as well and worked in my classroom this week. I wanted to make sure things were ready for my students. I do this job because of the students, not the money. HOWEVER, no raise in the past 6 years is really getting hard for me to stay in teaching. I am one of the lucky ones. I have a nursing degree. I have to have my Nursing degree to teach Health Occupations. My salary is that of a teacher not a nurse. Since we have not had a raise I work every other and some times every Saturday as a nurse to make ends meet. I love what I do and am GREAT at teaching. The students are the only reason I stay.

  17. Suzie

    August 16, 2013 at 6:25 am

    To those who questioned how these young men got their positions so quickly and what the process was in their hiring – THAT is a very good question! Those jobs should have been posted on the NC Office of State Personnel website for people all across the state (and country for that matter) to apply to – unless it says that it is open only to current DHHS employees. If it is open only to DHHS employees, then Diaz could not have applied as he was in McCrory’s communications office. And even if he had been in DHHS, he could not have been there long enough to have aced out people with much more experience and qualifications. The article does not say where McKillip was before he joined the DHHS but clearly, a 35% increase when there was a freeze on raises mandated back in March is a quite obviously a payback for services rendered during McCrory’s campaign. This is a total affront to ALL state employees, not just teachers. I support teachers but all state employees have been in the same boat and I’d like to see the state try to operate without us.

  18. Ewan Pritchard

    August 16, 2013 at 6:39 am

    Actually, she is his “paymaster” and so are all other voting North Carolinians that are out there. All of these guys are banking on the ambivalence of the general population. Banking on the fact that this type of behavior will be forgotten as long as a bunch of “consensus building” activity can happen in the months leading up to election. I hope they are wrong, and everyone reading this is able to bottle the feelings that they have now, and open that bottle shortly before the election. I am encouraged to see rural North Carolina counties fighting, because in the next election, that is where the change is going to need to take place. Wake and Mecklenburg counties can vote all they like, but without the rest of the state, they can’t fix this.

    Here’s to hoping that we can remember at the ballot box!

  19. Peggy Raymes

    August 16, 2013 at 6:42 am

    Please feel free to share or repost my letter. We need to work together in an organized manner to make our voices heard, and to influence policies and policymakers. I have 30 years in education, our school is continually recognized for our accomplishments, land I don’t make what these young men make. I believe in our educational system, but if we are to continue to make progress, we have to pay teachers a fair wage. Please continue to advocate, and please feel free to share these comments as you see fit. Thank you for teaching and for making a positive difference in the lives of your students and their families.

  20. Mary

    August 16, 2013 at 8:02 am

    Thank you Peggy Raymes and thank you to all the fine educators of our state! I was educated in Cumberland County many years ago and my teachers had a profound effect on my life. Other than parenting teaching is absolutely the most influential role in a child’s life! I am now a small business owner in New Hanover County,and this current administration has no respect for us either. That type of compensation for an entrance level civil employee is a blatant slap in the face to all hard working and unemployed North Carolinian’s..

  21. NCCaniac42

    August 16, 2013 at 8:25 am

    Guess my mistake was going to graduate school and working at several jobs making a whole lot less than these kids do with 25 plus years of experience. I should have just worked for some low life politician and help them get elected to office.. Pure example of Cronyism. Sad to think that these two young men will always feel ‘entitled’ much like Mitt Romney and his sons do. It isn’t what you know but who you know. What really angers me.. my tax dollars are going to pay for these two entitled white boys to just make connections.

  22. NC

    August 16, 2013 at 9:12 am

    …yet, State employees have gone without any kind of raise for 10 years, even when teachers where getting their raises. State Employees had to just sit back and accept the health insurance premium increases, the increased deductibles, the doubled up work, but then he give his office raises with money he says we don’t have? amazing…

  23. FilmDoc

    August 16, 2013 at 9:55 am

    I am on the faculty at a UNC system university. Like many of my colleagues, I have a terminal degree in my field (PhD) and have been teaching for more than ten years at the university level. Those of us who are not on the tenure track (and there have been few new tenure track lines available since the cuts began in 2008) are paid less than the starting salary for a public school teacher with a bachelor’s degree. In fact, our salaries are closer to the individual amounts McKillip and Diaz were granted in raises. In the past several years, we have seen our insurance benefits cut significantly and our class size increased, so effectively we have experienced pay cuts. We teach more students and more classes than our better paid tenure-track colleagues, we have little if any job security, and we have no chance of professional mobility. Stories like this one incense me and further illustrate that the fiscal responsibility this Governor and GA use to justify their war on NC (higher) education is not applicable when political buddies are involved.

  24. Alex

    August 16, 2013 at 9:59 am

    This is mass hysteria over nothing ! Staffers and political cronies have been making this kind of money in NC for years including Democratic administrations. They are short term independent contractors who have been overpaid for years, much like the Federal bureaucrats and staffers. It’s peanuts compared to a $20 Billion budget. The real answer is to shrink State and Federal government , and then you would be talking some dollars back to the people.

  25. Rick Heavner

    August 16, 2013 at 10:14 am

    I am not ashamed of my Profession, but I am ashamed of my Government in North Carolina. Shame on you!

  26. skye

    August 16, 2013 at 10:35 am

    there are like 105,000 public school teachers in NC, so this 50,000 dollars would give them all .45 cent a year? This is a drop in the bucket compared to what its gonna take to fix the problem with paying school teachers. I don’t know where these guys are gonna find the money but they need to make it happen badly.

  27. Mark

    August 16, 2013 at 12:41 pm

    A “low level communication’s worker” that was already making around $56,000, before the 35% increase. What kind of insanity is this. His cabinet got 20% increases right after he became Gov! Teachers have received 2% in 6 years!

  28. Alan

    August 16, 2013 at 2:08 pm

    Alex,

    Have you forgotten all the talk of accountability and transparency already?

  29. LayintheSmakDown

    August 16, 2013 at 2:42 pm

    this is understandable that Pat would go to what is (marginally) an actual journalistic (I use that loosely) type entity.

  30. […] has been overwhelming to Sarah Ovaska’s story where she broke the news of the huge raises given to 24 year old staffers in Gov McCrory’s […]

  31. Career State Employee

    August 16, 2013 at 4:25 pm

    I have worked in state government for more than 20 years. I went back to school to get my masters to qualify for a promotion. The promotion came during one of the “freezes.” I went up six pay grades and only received a 5% increase. Unless something wonderful happens, I will never make up that money. I can’t even make my student loan payments. Thank you North Carolina government!

  32. Scihark

    August 16, 2013 at 4:30 pm

    I think he may be trying to cover up something.

  33. Alan

    August 16, 2013 at 4:47 pm

    LayintheSmakDown, or may I simply call you ‘Doogie’?

    I guess Faux News was booked that day and couldn’t get Pat ‘Grand Wizard’ McCrory on?

    Regards
    Alan (with just one ‘l’)

  34. Billy Ward

    August 16, 2013 at 6:25 pm

    What do you expect from a Republican?When will you people who vote Republican ever learn?What more has to happen?At least have the good sense not to get on here and complain when working class and poor people keep getting the shaft from these “Christian” Republicans.

  35. Nate

    August 16, 2013 at 6:36 pm

    Peggy Raymes, you close your comment by asking whether we should A. give two raises that total up to under $50,000 in spending, or B. substantially raise teacher salaries across the board, a move which I don’t care to even speculate on the cost of. You’re comparing apples to moonrocks and pretending that your argument is legitimate. Yes, I do think that teaching (along with many other professions) is monetarily undervalued at present, and you make a lot of good points within your comment, but your final “question” is idiotic sensationalism in distilled form.

  36. Melissa Brown

    August 16, 2013 at 7:32 pm

    Peggy Raymes, thank you so much for your thoughtful and courageous response to Governor McCrory’s pay increases to his young staffers. This decision by him just further strengthens my conviction that this governor has no clue about what this state needs. I applaud your courageous remarks and hope that this legislature has an epiphany about the importance of public education and stops the madness of cutting education budgets, cutting teacher assistants, continuing to freeze teacher salaries, and removing extra pay for advanced degrees. This is madness and will gravely harm our state in the future. How can they be so short sighted? I am not a teacher, but I value the role that great teachers have played in my children’s lives.

  37. Mary

    August 16, 2013 at 8:19 pm

    Have any of you actually ever worked on a campaign? Do you have any idea what the salary is like? Or the hours? Campaigners pay money out of their own pockets for supplies, put in 80+ hour weeks and don’t make enough to afford housing in most cases.

    It also seems to me like these two people didn’t get raises as much as new jobs. It seems unfair to to attack them for following a different career path. I am as displeased as the next person with our current GA and McCrory (maybe more so). As a long time political and campaign staffer (for progressive candidates) the framing of this issue is nothing but divisive and ridiculous.

  38. Jane

    August 16, 2013 at 9:56 pm

    These positions are just 2 out of 1,500 “exempt” positions the governor now has at his disposal. Exempt positions are not subject to the state personnel act. They can be hired, fired, and have salaries set without any of the oversight of regular state positions. Also, since these are “policy” exempt positions, they don’t have to meet any minimum requirements for the position.

  39. Peggy Raymes

    August 17, 2013 at 9:10 pm

    That’s interesting!

  40. Kdog WNC

    August 19, 2013 at 1:40 pm

    So these 24-year old wet behind the ears greenhorns are worth more to our society than is a Navy Master Chief Petty Officer or a Marine Corps Master Gunnery Sergeant with 25 years experience? McCrony seems to think so….base pay for an E-9 with 20 years experience is about $65K.

  41. Martha

    August 20, 2013 at 4:16 pm

    I guess this is called “sleeping your way to the top”

  42. Bob Stevens

    August 20, 2013 at 7:05 pm

    mary….let me ask you this: have you ever worked in a public high school, and told a kid to do something, and he/she says, “F#@! you, I’m not doing that!”…..or have you ever broken up a fight with no personal protection of any kind? Have you ever had a parent accuse you, on numerous occasions, of being a racist or a sexist because you said “No” to a kid? Have you ever had to meet the physical needs of 30 teenagers who are soaking wet in 40 degree weather from walking outside to their hut classroom in a storm, and have the heater not working? Have you ever been held accountable for knowing the medical needs of 90+ students per semester in order to avoid a catastrophe? Have you ever spent nights at home crying because you found out that one of your students was living on the street or being abused at home? (and you are responsible for making sure proper authorities find out, even if you break that child’s trust) Have you ever held your pee for 90 minutes because nobody was able to watch your class while you went to the bathroom (teachers are legally liable if they walk away from a class) Have you ever had a job where you only had 20 minutes for lunch…and that was on a good day when a kid didn’t need you?

    sorry I don’t buy your sob story about how hard it is to work on a campaign.

  43. […] gave jobs paying more than $80,000 to two of his 20-something helpers, barely out of college. Each of the kids got a raise of $22,000-23,000 after a few months in state government. Teachers must work 15 years […]