RALEIGH—Progress NC Action today call on Speaker Thom Tillis, President Pro Tem Phil Berger and the NC General Assembly to open an investigation into pay raises in the McCrory Administration. The pay raise issue came to light after two 24-year-old former McCrory campaign staffers—Ricky Diaz and Matthew McKillip—were given 35% and 37% raises by DHHS Secretary Aldona Wos. The two in question now make $85,000 and $87,500 respectively—despite their glaring lack of qualifications.
The raises came weeks after Gov. McCrory issued a directive calling for a salary freeze across state government.
Subsequent investigations found that DHHS had issued more than $1.7 million in raises after the March 8 directive. A quick glance at the state employee salary database finds hundreds of pay increases across agencies after March 8.
Progress NC Action calls on the NCGA to investigate both the hiring practices within the McCrory administration and the extent of pay increases after March 8.
Among the questions that should be asked:
1) How many raises were handed out by McCrory administration officials after the March 8 directive? How much money does that represent?
2) How many of these raises were given to exempt political appointees?
3) What is the hiring process for exempt positions? Are the jobs posted publicly? Are all applications considered? To what extent do political connections play in hiring decisions?
4) In the case of Diaz and McKillip, what other applicants were considered for their positions? What were their qualifications?
5) What role did politics play in the issuing of a salary freeze directive that nobody seemed to bother following?
McCrory ordered a salary freeze on March 8 based on fears that Medicaid cost overruns would stretch state dollars thin. The Medicaid threat has been used to justify a number of state government decisions including no pay increases for teachers and state employees.
But if DHHS, the agency responsible for administering Medicaid, feels free to hand out $1.7 million in raises, how serious is the actual Medicaid threat? Or was the directive a political ploy to justify administration goals?
“Huge pay raises for campaign staffers don’t pass the smell test. Something stinks in the McCrory administration and the NC General Assembly should exercise its oversight role,” said Gerrick Brenner of Progress NC Action.