2011-05-19 / Local & State

3,579 Pa. State Workers Earn $100,000-plus

PITTSBURGH (AP) – Two dozen state employees earn $200,000 or more and are among nearly 3,600 state workers paid at least $100,000 per year, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune- Review.

The paper cited an analysis of payroll records from the three branches of government and various commissions and agencies. The Internal Revenue Service says only 2.7 percent of people filing taxes in the commonwealth reported incomes of $200,000 or more in 2008, the latest year available.

Figures from the state Department of Labor and Industry indicate that 7.4 percent of working Pennsylvanians made $100,000 or more between 2007 and 2009. The average salary in all sectors in 2009 was $44,436.

The records indicate that the highest-paid state employee, Chancellor John Cavanaugh of the State System of Higher Education, makes $ 327,500. System spokesman Kenn Marshall said Cavanaugh, who proposed freezing management salaries this year, would not comment on his pay. But he noted that the salary has not changed since Cavanaugh was named chancellor in July 2008, and his salary and those of the university presidents are below the national average in the Chronicle of Higher Education’s most recent annual survey.

Second-highest is James Preston, president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency, or PHEAA, who makes $ 319,999 a year. Spokesman Mike Reiber said Preston would not comment but added that “recruiting and retaining experienced leaders to guide the agency requires a unique blend of skill, experience and industry knowledge.’’ He noted that the agency guarantees more than $190 billion in student loan assets held by nearly 400 lenders and employs nearly 2,500 people.

The paper said it assembled payroll for the executive, legislative and judicial branches, including state row offices and independent agencies such as the Gaming Control Board, Turnpike Commission and Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency. Those earning $100,000 or more included physicians, elected leaders, judges, investment officers, college professors, corrections supervisors and state police sergeants, the paper said.

To help address the state’s budget crisis, Gov. Tom Corbett, whose $177,401 salary ranks him 86th on the list, has proposed slashing university spending by 50 percent. His press secretary, Kevin Harley, said the paper’s review review “demonstrates that state-supported higher education cannot be the only recession-proof industry in Pennsylvania.’’

House Republican Policy Chairman Dave Reed, R-Indiana

County, who as a legislative leader makes $90,792, said “everybody focuses on the Legislature’’ when debating salaries, but executive and judicial salaries not only exceed legislative salaries but also that of the governor.

University presidents, professors, administrators and those in the agency overseeing 14 state-owned universities accounted for 1,490 or 42 percent of the 3,579 state employees reported to be making $100,000 or more. Other agencies and institutions with substantial numbers of people making that or more include the judiciary (591), the Department of Public Welfare (181), and state police (180), the paper said.

Former Indiana University of Pennsylvania president Tony Atwater actually made the most money last year, a total of $455,000 after leaving his position on June 30, six months after no-confidence vote by IUP faculty. Under terms of his severance agreement, he received his full salary for the 2010-11 academic year and a lump-sum payment upon his departure, Marshall said. The university’s new president, David J. Werner, makes $253,428 a year. The paper said neither Werner nor Atwater could be reached for comment.

Officials with the state’s university system concede that faculty members, whose compensation is set through collective bargaining agreements, are well-paid by industry standards. Most of their salaries rank around the 85th percentile when compared to a survey of universities the Chronicle of Higher Education published in April.

Philadelphia attorney Ken Jarin, chairman of the system’s board of governors, said it had the lowest tuition increases of any state system in the country during the past six years – about 3.3 percent a year – and has difficulty recruiting and keeping university presidents. Eleven presidents retired or announced departures since 2005.

“In the world of Harrisburg, those salaries appear high. They are higher than the governor and most people in state government. But in the arena we are competing, those salaries are very, very low,’’ Jarin said.

Although Supreme Court Chief Justice Ronald Castille, the presiding officer in the judicial branch, is the third highest-paid chief justice in the United States at $195,138, according to a January 2011 salary survey by the National Center for State Courts, he makes less money than 28 other Pennsylvania state government employees, the paper said.

Top legislative leaders – Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati, R-Jefferson County, and House Speaker Sam Smith, RPunxsutawney – are paid $124,297, less than 337 legislative staffers make. The highest-paid staffer, Edward J. Nolan, executive director of the House Appropriations Committee, makes $191,854 and is the 28th highest-paid among all state employees, the paper said. He declined comment on his salary.

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