Lawmaker urges Gov. Fallin to stop pay raises for agency heads

Lawmaker urges Gov. Fallin to stop five digit pay raises for state agency heads

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OKLAHOMA CITY -

State Representative Richard Morrissette (D- Oklahoma City) wants to put a stop to pay raises for the head of state agencies.

"This is like old fashioned payback to political cronies," said Rep. Morrissette.

Rep. Morrisette's call to action comes after OSBI issued a $47,000 pay raise for Director Stan Florence, the Department of Tourism issued a $40,000 raise for Director Debbie Snodgrass, and the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse issued a $40,000 raise for Commissioner Terri White.

"It's obscene," he said, "it's obscene, and the word that really comes to mind is hypocrisy."

Rep. Morrisette blames HB 1717 for the pay raises, Rep. Leslie Osborn (R- Mustang) wrote the bill.

"The intent of the bill was never to give agency directors large salaries that's been totally misconstrued," said Rep. Osborn.

Rep. Osborn says the purpose of the law was to strike agency director salaries from statute and give state employees who go above and beyond a $1,000 bonus.

"It was never the legislature's job to set salaries," she said, "that was never our job, that was a power play in the past."

HB 1717 also prompted two comprehensive evaluations of state employee salaries and benefits.  The first study focuses on the head of state agencies, the results of the study were released in September.  The second study focuses on other state employees, Governor Mary Fallin's spokesperson Alex Weintz said in a statement that study will be released at a later date.

HB 1717 has met criticism for noth tackling pay raises for state workers who haven't had a raise in six years, but Osborn says HB 1717 is just first of several bills she's working on with Oklahoma Public Employees Association (OPEA).

"We talked about taking the directors out last year," said Osborn, "we talked about getting state employees out this year, and changing how we pay."

Rep. Morrissette says despite Rep. Osborn's intentions, HB 1717 does more harm than good.

"The governor can stop this, immediately," he said.

Rep. Morrissette is urging Governor Mary Fallin to sign an executive order that would put a stop to pay raises for the head of public agencies.  Weintz said in a statement the governor supports a full evaluation of state employee salaries and benefits.

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