While criticizing state spending and state worker salaries as too high, Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner is paying top members of his administration significantly more than their predecessors in Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn’s administration, a review by The Associated Press has found.
An AP review of state payroll records found nine of ten top administrative posts paying more under Rauner, who took office earlier this month. On an annual basis, those Rauner staffers will make more than the equivalent Quinn staffers by nearly 36 percent, or roughly $380,000.
Among those receiving more is Rauner’s deputy governor, Olin “Trey” Childress III, a former chief operating officer for the state of Georgia, who is making $198,000 a year, a 24 percent increase over Quinn’s deputy governor’s $150,000 salary.
Rauner is paying his chief of staff and former deputy campaign manager Mike Zolnierowicz $180,000 per year, a 38 percent increase over his predecessor’s salary under Quinn, according to state records. Zolnierowicz is a former deputy chief of staff for U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk.
Rauner’s general counsel, Jason Barclay, a partner at Indiana law firm Barnes and Thornburg, is being paid $186,300. His salary is 53 percent higher than Quinn’s general counsel, who was paid $135,000 annually.
Rauner said last week that he will “pay what we need to bring in talented people.” But he also stressed a theme of “shared sacrifice” during his inaugural address Jan. 12. He has issued an executive order halting all “non-essential spending” and announced he’ll be taking a salary of $1 per year. Quinn made $179,400 last year.
Rauner suggested last week at a presentation at the University of Chicago that high state salaries had served to increase the state’s unpaid debt.
In response to AP questions, Rauner’s spokesman Lance Trover wrote Thursday in a one-sentence email that the governor’s overall payroll is “currently less than under Gov. Pat Quinn.” But he did not provide specifics, and he did not answer specific questions about the salaries of individual staff members.
State records show Quinn’s office employed 96 people last year with a total payroll of $4.5 million. It’s too early to compare the two total payrolls because not all of Rauner’s new hires have been paid yet and some Quinn employees were still being paid in January, state records show.
The Illinois Comptroller’s website began posting the paychecks of workers in Rauner’s administration this week. The AP verified the amounts against state records of the staffers’ monthly salaries.
Among other staffers:
Trover, a former Kirk communications director and senior adviser to Rauner’s campaign, is making $132,000 annually. His predecessor earned $86,004. Mike Schrimpf, deputy chief of staff for communications, will earn $138,000, compared with a salary of $96,990 for his predecessor.
Rauner’s budget director, Tim Nuding, Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno’s former chief of staff, makes 20 percent more than his predecessor, Jerry Stermer, earning $150,000 compared with Stermer’s $125,000.
And Rauner’s longtime executive assistant, Holly Griff, is earning an annual salary of $135,000. That is 94 percent more than Margaret Ross, who Quinn administration members said performed similar duties and administration-wide scheduling, and made $69,500.
One Rauner staff member earning less than his predecessor is Richard Goldberg, the deputy chief of staff for legislative affairs, who makes $123,000, compared with his predecessor’s $126,996 annual salary.
KERRY LESTER, Associated Press
JOHN O’CONNOR, Associated Press