Republican Senate President Tom Niehaus spoke on Wednesday about his recent decision to approve raises for some Senate staff members of both parties.
10 Investigates pulled payroll data and found that the senate handed out raises to 19 staffers, 10 Investigates’ Paul Aker reported.
Of the staffers who got raises, 15 of them received double digit increases. The senate clerk went from $101,000 to $116,000 and the minority chief of staff went from $95,000 to nearly $106,000.
Niehaus’ chief of staff went from about $124,000 to about $139,000. Niehaus said the Senate found a way to pay for it even though its budget stayed the same, Aker reported.
Niehaus said he consulted with Senate Democrats before approving the plan. Some minority staffers who work for Senate Democrats also received raises.
Senate Democratic Chief of Staff, Amanda Hoyt, sent 10 Investigates a statement. It said in part, “Some members of the Democratic Caucus staff did receive salary adjustments to maintain some semblance of parity with the pay scale for the Republican Caucus. However, Republican Caucus staff members continue to receive higher salaries across the board.”
The statement also claims Ohio’s spending legislative salaries “rank near the bottom in the nation,” according to a national survey.
Niehaus said he based his decision on market forces. “I thought it was important to protect the most senior members of my staff,” Niehaus said.
He said he was worried he would lose key staffers to other state agencies or private businesses if he did not pay them more.
Niehaus said he realized his decision may not be popular.
“Whenever you're going through difficult economic times, if you're not the person getting an increase, it's not going to seem fair. My responsibility is managing the Senate and making sure we have the best people available and they're fairly compensated,” Niehaus said.
Not everyone agreed with his reasoning, even some conservatives around the state said it was not the best time to give raises, Aker reported.
“My impression is that it sends the wrong message at the wrong time,” said Matt Mayer who is the director of the conservative group the Buckeye Institute.
“I just don't think it makes much sense given what's happened in Ohio lately,” Mayer said.
Of the 60 caucus staffers who make less than $35,000, two got a raise, Aker reported.
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