Investing in a top-heavy bureaucracy

The Austin American Statesman has run several stories (“Management positions, salary increase at DPS while state trooper pay languish” and “State agencies defend executive pay“) that reveals how quickly administrative salaries have grown in the Department of Public Safety while the salaries of state troopers have lagged behind. A relatively few administrators receive high salaries while most of the people who do the day-to-day work of the government receive much less. Earlier this year the Dallas Morning New reported (“Audit: Texas governor, AG, land commissioner boosted staffs as state workers’ overall numbers shrank“) that while the state lost 3,200 employees, the governor, attorney general, and land commissioner’s offices grew. Texas also saw the Governor approve a big salary for his choice for education commissioner (“Texas Schools Chief Michael Williams Will Make $215K“), granting his political appointee a salary 15 percent above the amount appropriated for the position the year. Of course, that year also so large budget cuts to the Texas Education Agency and school budgets across the state. Meanwhile, we learned that the Governor’s Chief of Staff earned $325,000 a year–that after earning a $162,000 bonus as she left the Employee Retirement System (ERS) even as state employees were told that reductions had to be made to their benefits because of budget shortfalls.

We’re told that these salaries and bonuses are needed to compete with the private sector. However, they only seem to be worried about staying competitive on top executive salaries and I see much less interest in providing competitive salaries for everyone else.

The fact that our state’s leaders and their appointees have made giving pay raises to high level bureaucrats a priority while street-level bureaucrats like state troopers and teachers went neglected tells us that either this is what they want or that they are incompetent. I suspect most Texans are not going to like either answer.


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