Editorial: Gov. Tom Wolf staff salary increases set tone, raise eyebrows | TribLIVE.com

Editorial: Gov. Tom Wolf staff salary increases set tone, raise eyebrows

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf delivers his budget address for the 2019-20 fiscal year to a joint session of the Pennsylvania House and Senate in Harrisburg, Pa.

Everybody loves getting a raise.

You might wait all year, have your review, get a gold star and be told, yes, you are valuable. You are worth another 3% in your paycheck.

After Gov. Tom Wolf was re-elected, some of his staff got a taste of that experience.

About a dozen of Wolf’s personnel, including public relations and deputy chiefs of staff, kicked off the second term with salary increases that ranged from $9,000 to $33,000.

The smallest raise went to J.J. Abbott, Wolf’s spokesman, whose increase was about 7.7%. The largest, to the governor’s scheduler, was about 36%. The chiefs of staff and deputy press secretaries got about a 27% bump.

That’s an impressive amount.

Gubernatorial staff put in a lot of work, and it is undoubted that Abbot’s claims about the raises is accurate. Every one of those people could probably command at least that much, if not more, in some private sector jobs. The Associated Press said when Gov. Tom Corbett left office in 2015, his deputy chiefs of staff made $145,000.

But that doesn’t mean the leap isn’t jarring in a state where the U.S. Census Bureau puts per capita income at $31,476. It’s also not lost that the increases — and promoted job titles for the deputy chiefs of staff who used to be special assistants — didn’t come before the election.

Maybe the governor is leading by example. It is certainly not the first time he has advocated for higher wages in Pennsylvania.

The administration wants to increase minimum wage to $12 an hour. That’s a 62% increase. In his budget address, Wolf championed a $45,000 starting salary for every public school teacher, funded by the state. In some districts, that could be a significant jump over the opening offer for a fresh-out-of-college education major.

Wolf is definitely doing the same thing that he is advocating others do. It’s just that working close to the governor already comes with a pretty good take-home, so an increase that is 10 times what most people hope to get can end up raising eyebrows.

Especially since the governor is writing the check, but it’s those median income taxpayers covering it.

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