The ranks of political appointees have grown from 114 to 126 since 2003, Rowland's last full year in office, and their combined salaries have increased from $11.6 million to $13.8 million in that same period, according to a state personnel list of agency commissioners, deputies, executive assistants and others who get jobs through political patronage appointments instead of state civil service rules. That's a 10 percent increase in bodies and an 18 percent jump in salary costs in three years.
In the past 10 years, there has been a 40 percent jump in the total number of political appointees in state government, from 90 in 1996 to today's 126, mostly by the addition of more deputy commissioners and executive assistants. Those changes show up in lists of appointees compiled by state personnel officials at the Department of Administrative Services in response to Freedom of Information requests by The Courant.
Connecticut's highest paid agency commissioners make nearly $158,000 a year, more than the governor's $150,000 - and more than commissioners in some larger states.
Commissioners and deputy commissioners in Connecticut have been receiving raises at an annual rate of 3 percent in recent years. For example, Revenue Services Commissioner Pamela A. Law, Mental Health Commissioner Thomas A. Kirk Jr. and Mental Retardation Commissioner Peter H. O'Meara all saw their salaries rise from $144,481 to $157,880 between 2003 and 2006.
Executive assistants who work under commissioners and deputies at state agencies have had greater pay raises, in varying amounts up to 6 percent or more annually. Donna L. Pomeroy, executive assistant at the Department of Revenue Services, for example, saw her salary rise more than 22 percent in the same three years - from $92,700 to $113,460. Executive assistant Robert M. Norman, at the Department of Veterans Affairs, received a 12 percent raise, from $86,990 to $97,909, during that same period.
Lender wants us to be appalled by how many people are on the state payroll, and even more appalled at their salaries. Perhaps he's right, and to be fair he's surely spent more time looking at this than I have. I'm a bit more skeptical. It's very easy to complain about numbers without considering what these people actually do. Maybe each appointee is worth every penny. I don't know enough to come to a conclusion.
Lender, Jon. "Appointees Have Done Well With Rell". Hartford Courant. 12/11/06