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Large Pay Raises For State Agency Directors Draws Criticism

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OKLAHOMA CITY -

Large pay hikes for the heads of state agencies have drawn belated criticism from Governor Fallin, but have also made her the target of some criticism.

The raises came in response to a pay study authorized by the Legislature in 2013, and the majority have been in place since the beginning of 2014.

House Bill 1717 called on the Office of Management & Enterprise Services (OMES) to determine an appropriate salary range for all state agency directors through an examination of each position and comparison to other similar positions in the private sectror, as well as, in other states.

The resulting report provided recommended salary ranges, but made clear that the agency boards and commissions that set their directors' salaries were not required to approve pay raises.

They did, nevertheless.

9 Investigates first reported on the pay study in November 2013, at which point, many boards had already approved salary hikes for their agency heads.

For example, OSBI Director Stan Florence had already seen his salary increased 56 percent -- from $80,000 to $127,000. Chief Medical Examiner Eric Pfeifer's annual salary had been bumped from $225,000 to $256,000.

The OMES annual compensation report, released earlier this fall, shows the full extent of raises approved for state agency heads.

Here are a few of the noteworthy examples:

Michael Carolina, Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology, from $96,000 to $130,000

James Farha, Oklahoma Student Loan Authority, from $116,500 to $152,000

Kim Glazier, Oklahoma Board of Nursing, from $91,000 to $125,000

Albert Ashwood, Oklahoma Emergency Management, from $75,700 to $95,000

Kathy Hart, Licensure for Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors Board, from $75,400 to $108,000

Jason Clark, CompSource Oklahoma, from $116,500 to $143,700

In a statement this week, Governor Fallin responded to word of the raises, saying, "Some of these raises had merit, but I'm skeptical that 48 directors absolutely had to have raises immediately above all the other needs at their agencies."

Gov. Fallin acknowledged the pay study that led to the raises, but went on to say, "It's OK for a director to receive a raise when necessary if funds are available and the director received a positive performance review. While those criteria may have been met in some of these cases, it's doubtful it was met in every case."

Fallin is, herself, responsible for the salaries of a handful of agency directors, and she did give two of them significant raises.

Former House Speaker Chris Benge, appointed by Fallin as her Secretary of State, is being paid $140,000. His predecessor earned $90,000.

Preston Doerflinger, director of the Office of Management and Enterprise Services, was given a $64,000 raise by Fallin, taking his salary from $108,000 to $172,000. The Governor points out, though, that Doerflinger is doing the job that was previously done by three agency directors, and even at his higher salary, is still saving the state more than $200,000 a year.

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