State treasurer expected to oppose pay increases for governor's staff Raises may be approved if comptroller OKs action @

December 15, 1998|By Michael Dresser | Michael Dresser,SUN STAFF

State Treasurer Richard N. Dixon said yesterday that he is likely to oppose a series of pay raises for Gov. Parris N. Glendening's senior staff members when the increases come before the Board of Public Works tomorrow.

Dixon, one of three members of the board, said the raises exceed General Assembly guidelines limiting such increases to 6 percent.

"More than 6 percent, I'm going to vote against -- that's the standard set by the legislature," said Dixon, who represents the General Assembly on the board. Comptroller Robert L. Swann said he plans to support the increases. Since Glendening is the third member of the board, it is all but certain the raises will be approved, regardless of how the treasurer votes.

As he begins his second term, Glendening is seeking board permission to raise the salaries of 12 gubernatorial staff members, including chief of staff Major F. Riddick Jr., by as much as 15.6 percent.

Riddick, who directs the operations of the executive branch on a day-to-day basis, would see his pay rise from $129,046 to $139,000 -- a 7.7 percent increase. His pay already exceeds that of the governor, who receives $120,000.

Increases exceeding 6 percent would go to seven other members of the governor's staff, including two aides to Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend. The largest percentage increase, 15.6 percent, would go to Robert A. Platky, director of financial administration in the governor's office. His salary would jump from $68,117 to $78,803.

Glendening is proposing to award the raises under a provision of Maryland law allowing the board to approve increases "for the purpose of retention or recruitment of competent individuals."

Ray Feldmann, the governor's press secretary, said the pay increases -- which would come in addition to cost-of-living raises granted to state workers over the past four years -- were based primarily on increased responsibilities.

In a letter to Budget Secretary Frederick W. Puddester dated Nov. 19 -- two weeks after the Nov. 3 election -- Glendening cited Riddick's leadership in "moving state government into the 21st Century" as chairman of the Information Technology Board.

In similar letters, Riddick outlined justifications for the other proposed raises.

At a preliminary board meeting yesterday, Dixon said he would consider the justification for each pay increase. But he indicated that he wasn't buying the argument that the state needed to pay the staff members more to retain their services.

"No one's irreplaceable," Dixon said, citing President Harry S Truman's firing of Gen. Douglas MacArthur during the Korean War.

In what way be a preview of the Board of Public Works meeting, Dixon's remarks brought a vehement response from Comptroller-elect William Donald Schaefer, who was sitting in on the meeting.

"People really don't understand how hard public employees work. They don't understand the long hours they put in," said Schaefer, who suggested that board members should defer to other board members' evaluations of their own employees.

Sen. Martin G. Madden, the incoming Senate minority leader, said he had no objection to the raises provided they were not out of line with what other state employees were receiving.

"To the extent it greatly exceeds that, I would have to look at it," Madden said. State employees received an average 3.5 percent increase this year.

Pub Date: 12/15/98

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