This is going to be tough for even his supporters to swallow, but Greg Gianforte just grew government and increased spending. Wait, what? Yep, he just increased pay to his highest positions, all of which are appointed by him. Sounds like a great deal for his buddies, particularly his male buddies since the male appointees will see far greater increases than their female counter parts. But how can this be? He swore to make state government more efficient and would be sure it would live within it’s means. And yet Gianforte has increased by almost 50% the pay of his unproven director and unconfirmed director of DPHHS, Adam Meier.
“For too long, state spending has grown out of control as taxpayers send more money to Helena. Its appetite has been insatiable,” Gianforte said. And yet, that appetite has now grown and will need to be fed. Historically, agency director pay has hovered just below an annual salary of $100,000 plus benefits. Make no mistake, these are hard and demanding jobs that require and understanding of the agency mission, the ability to work with multiple stakeholders at once, a sense of the political process, the ability not to do and say stupid things and most importantly, that by accepting an appointment you are accepting the job as a public servant for the good of the public. The job is absolutely not about compensation. That has always been the case in Montana until today. Well, that’s not entirely true. Right after being elected ol’ Money Bags Gianforte started asking around at the Department of Administration if agency directors could take a stipend for their work and continue to collect a corporate salary at the same time. Nothing fishy there at all.
Gianforte has been known to say that he believes in paying employees. Fair enough something a lot of employers like to say until they understand what exactly it takes to pay employees. In this case he’s taken care of 12 of his some 12,000 state employees with increases anywhere from 5% to 46%. As for the his other 11,988 employees, the MFPE ,and AFSCME negotiated pay plan in HB 13 made it out of committee last week which will give that much larger group a whopping $.55 an hour increase in 2022. Never mind the historically underfunded state employee pay plan that is administered on flawed methodology. But yes, you read that right, they will all take a pay freeze this year and gain a total of $1,144 annually before taxes. Meanwhile over at DPHHS, the director hasn’t even found the Overland Express yet and he’s raking in an additional $50,000 year before the Montana Senate even says he gets to put his name on the door.
Maybe this isn’t as bad as it really seems after all. Gianforte has already announced he won’t be using the state plane for his travel at a savings of $320,000 annually. Surely that will pay for the raises to his cronies, of course he laid off the state pilot but you gotta cut somewhere. Further savings for travel will come when they all pile on his private jet for a joyride.
‘Maybe all men got one big soul ever’body’s a part of.’