The Jindal administration’s budget architect, regional prison wardens and other state officials received added compensation last year as the state faced a serious financial crunch.
State agency leaders are allowed to pay a little extra to workers for taking on additional duties, furthering their education, receiving awards or agreeing to stay with state government. The payments made last fiscal year were tendered during a freeze on pay raises for most state employees.
State Civil Service Director Shannon Templet said she is in the process of tallying up how much the state made in such payments to classified employees, who are rank-and-file workers with job protections, in the fiscal year that ended June 30.
Templet supplied a disk of payments reported by agencies. The payments are listed in a collection of spreadsheets. They include special payments for winning employee of the year honors, taking on a special project or simply continuing to report to work.
The single payments detailed on the disk range from as little as $50 for an award to as much as $14,872 for Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola Warden Burl Cain.
At the same time, state agencies were facing an overall state budget shortfall, expected to reach $1.6 billion for the current fiscal year. The budget crunch prompted Gov. Bobby Jindal to propose canceling pay raises for most state workers.
Not included on the disk because he is an unclassified employee subject to immediate firing is the Division of Administration’s Ray Stockstill, who received $9,000 over three pay periods in December.
Stockstill oversees the state budget for the Jindal administration.
Commissioner of Administration Paul Rainwater said he made the decision to pay Stockstill $9,000 on top of a $180,000 annual paycheck because he needed to keep Stockstill during a difficult budget process.
“The reality is Ray’s 67 years old,” Rainwater said. “There was a possibility of him considering retirement.”
Rainwater said he offered the lump-sum payment as an incentive to persuade Stockstill to remain with the Jindal administration for another year. Stockstill now plans to retire in November.
Rainwater said Stockstill was instrumental in helping win passage of a state operating budget that spared health care and education from devastating cuts.
“Ray’s a very strong leader. He’s a good negotiator,” Rainwater said.
State Rep. Jim Fannin, D-Jonesboro and chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, said he would not have made the payment while talking about budget cuts.
“I certainly would have handled it a different way,” Fannin said.
The Division of Administration also made nearly $90,000 in payments to employees on top of their regular salaries to help upgrade the state’s computer system.
Michael DiResto, spokesman for the division, said the Jindal administration decided to pay employees extra to tackle the project rather than hire outside help.
The highest single lump-sum payments listed among classified employees were at the state Department of Corrections, where Cain received nearly $15,000 and Dixon Correctional Institute Warden Steve Rader received more than $11,000 for “regional warden duties.”
The agency’s spokeswoman, Pam Laborde, said the compensation actually was divided up and added to the wardens’ pay every two weeks. She said neither received a lump-sum payment.
Laborde said the regional warden concept dates back to 2007. For extra pay, Cain and Rader help oversee other parts of the prison system such as an offender tracking system and emergency training, she said.
At the state Department of Children and Family Services, classified employees received $132,184 in rewards and recognition last fiscal year. Many employees were rewarded multiple times, all for taking on emergency preparedness duties.
Regional administrator Catherine Michiels, for example, received more than $11,000 in five payments in addition to her then more than $90,000 regular annual pay for agreeing to be a lead area manager on emergency preparedness, said Trey Williams, spokesman for the agency.
Williams said the payments typically are made quarterly and sometimes are included in an employee’s regular paycheck.
“These adjustments are related to employees taking on additional duties and responsibilities,” he said.
Williams said other employees received payments because they took on the duties tied to positions that were eliminated.