Let top brass wait for higher salaries

Published 5:00 am Friday, June 3, 2005

Dear Editor,

A Wednesday editorial in The Clarion-Ledger about salaryincreases for state government top brass is off the mark.

Their own news article that same day (“Mental Health, Forestryface layoffs under 2006 budget”) makes the point. State workerlayoffs and service cuts at most agencies were reported. MentalHealth alone may top 400 layoffs, and these are front-line workerswho have not had a raise in years.

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Official records show Ed Legrand, the Mental Health lieutenantquoted in the article, received a raise of $31,289.73; the head ofMental Health received a raise of $44,162.50; and the head of MDOTreceived a raise of $52,632. Agency top brass are laying offworkers and cutting services under the mantra of “no money” butthey found the money to give themselves terrific raises, and thisoccurred throughout state government. This is more money than theannual salary of a teacher holding a Ph.D. and 20 years’service.

Legislators, led by Rep. John Reeves (R-Jackson), reasonablytried to put the raises on hold for a year until the state recoversfinancially. This money would have helped stop massive layoffs andcuts in services. Normal salary realignments and promotions ofstate workers would have remained intact. The Clarion-Ledger wrotethat more than 2,000 workers were affected. In fact, fewer than 300would have been affected – the top brass who gave themselves thesehuge raises the state can ill afford.

I am reminded of WorldCom’s top brass getting huge raises andnice perks while they were plunging the company into bankruptcywhile their employees and American investors paid the price. Rep.Reeves was absolutely right. He has long been an advocate for fairtreatment of all state workers. He watches every public dollar asif it was his own, and we appreciate it.

Brenda R. Scott,

President, Mississippi Alliance of StateEmployees