1,126 Connecticut Employees Earn More Than Governor

Published April 25, 2011

Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy took office in January knowing he had to balance a budget deficit in excess of $3 billion.

Malloy, the former Mayor of Stamford and a Democrat, makes $150,000 a year under a state law in effect since 2003. Despite the importance of his job, 1,126 state employees receive more money than Malloy does.

The Yankee Institute for Public Policy compiled the data on state salaries and published it on the organization’s CTSunlight.org Web site.

“This data is especially relevant now, when Gov. Malloy is seeking $1 billion in concessions from state employees and many states are reassessing state employee head count, wages, and benefits,” said Yankee Institute Executive Director Fergus Cullen.

12 Get $500,000 a Year
Twelve state employees make $500,000 a year, and 153 make more than $250,000. The highest-paid employees are all affiliated with the University of Connecticut or its health center.

Men’s basketball coach Jim Calhoun and women’s coach Geno Auriemma—whose teams both made Final Four NCAA tournament appearances—topped the list at $2.3 and $1.6 million, respectively. Former UConn football coach Randy Edsall made $1.5 million, enough for third place. Athletic Director Jeffrey Hathaway made $555,481 in 2010, making him the 11th-highest paid state employee.

Cato Laurencin, dean of the UConn Medical School. making $918,857, is fourth in the rankings. Seven of his colleagues make more than $500,000.

‘There Is Room for Cuts’
Other employees making more than the governor include doctors for several state agencies, two workers’ compensation commissioners, three public defenders, the commissioner of public safety, and 57 state police officers

“Setting aside the small number of medical professionals at the top of the list, we question whether the state can justify having more than 1,000 employees who are paid more than the governor’s salary of $150,000. The sheer number of such highly paid employees suggests there is room for cuts,” Cullen said.

House Minority Leader Larry Cafero (R-Norwalk), said the state has numerous compensation practices that don’t make sense, including longevity payments—essentially bonuses for longstanding employees—and guaranteed cost-of-living increases.

State Pay for Union Business
Cafero and other House Republicans recently highlighted 911 state employees who, as union stewards, receive unlimited release time to do union business while still collecting their state salaries.

He said he does not blame the employees who earn more than Malloy. “I fault the system. The system is broken,” Cafero said. “The system is unsustainable.”

The Hartford Courant reported in March that the University of Connecticut police chief, who receives $246,961, is paid more than Gov. Malloy and New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly. The top two cops at UConn—the second-in-command made $193,616 in 2010—make more than the police chiefs in Hartford and Providence and the Boston Police Commissioner.

Gov. Malloy explained his philosophy of pay for state employees on the WNPR radio program Where We Live when asked about pay at the UConn Police Department:

‘Embarrassment to the University’
“I just think that people get wacky and they lose a sense of fairness. You know, a person who’s really good at their job doesn’t deserve to be overcompensated, they deserve to be fairly compensated,” Malloy said. “And the fairness is in part taking into consideration what others are paid for similar positions, and I think it’s got to be a tremendous embarrassment to the University of Connecticut.”

“I’ve staffed my office very differently,” Malloy added. “I think everybody on my leadership team is making less now than they made at their prior jobs, and we were very careful about that.”

His chief of staff, Timothy Bannon, was among the employees paid more than the governor last year. As executive director of the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority, Bannon made $234,537. As Malloy’s chief of staff he makes $150,000, the same as Malloy.

Plan for Concessions, Tax Increases
Malloy and the state employee unions are currently negotiating a concession package, with Malloy hoping to achieve $1 billion in savings he included in his proposed budget for each of the next two years.

The proposed budget also includes $1.5 billion in state tax increases and about $400 million in new municipal taxes.

Cafero said it doesn’t make sense for the state to consider raising taxes to balance the budget when state spending is going up. He said every opportunity for savings has not been explored.

“I don’t think it’s been done,” he said. “Not even close.”

New Tax Brackets
Under the governor’s proposal, the state income tax would become more progressive with the addition of five new brackets to the existing three and the top bracket rising from 6.5 percent to 6.7 percent. Individuals making more than $56,500 would see their rates go up, and homeowners would lose a $500 property tax credit.

The sales tax would also increase, as would corporate, alcohol, and tobacco taxes. A new luxury tax would be levied on cars, boats, jewelry, and clothing over certain thresholds.

New taxes that benefit cities and towns include part of the sales tax and taxes on hotels, rental cars, and real estate transactions, plus new property taxes on boats and airplanes.

Zachary Janowski ([email protected]) is an investigative reporter for the Yankee Institute for Public Policy, Connecticut’s free-market think tank.