Williams Approved Special Raises For Senate Staff

Jan 18, 2013

FRANKFORT, Ky. -- Before leaving his post as Senate President, David Williams approved pay raises of between 2 percent and 14 percent for eight staff members of the state Senate.

The Courier-Journal reports the special pay raises went to his chief of staff and deputy chief of staff, as well as two other members of his Republican leadership staff, and to four staff members of minority Senate Democrats.

The pay increases came during a budget year that provided no increases to rank-and-file workers.

Williams told the newspaper he approved the raises to keep good workers from taking other jobs and to make the workers' pay "commensurate" to staff working for the state House.

"We were losing people because of money. ... I lost three major policy people within the last six months," he said. "You can't afford to lose too many senior people. I felt very strongly it was important to keep institutional knowledge there."

He said the Senate - which has 38 members - still pays around $400,000 less than the House - which has 100 members - on leadership staff salaries.

Williams approved the raises before resigning on Nov. 2 to accept an appointment as a circuit judge for Clinton, Cumberland and Monroe counties.

Kentucky Association of State Employees President David Smith said he feels the raises were unfair to other state workers.

"I expect they deserve the raises, but all state workers are overdue for a raise," Smith said. "What's wrong about this is that he helped his own and did not use his influence when he had it to help all state workers."

Current Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, said he didn't know about the raises and so could not comment on them.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo declined to comment on the pay issue.

"If Judge Williams feels these people should be rewarded before he left, that was his prerogative," Stumbo said. "We've kept staff consistent but have reduced it when the budget called for it. We have lived under the same cuts as the other branches of government and will continue to do so."