Gov. Dannel P. Malloy defended the $1.4 million in pay raises he gave to his political appointees the day after Christmas.
At a Capitol press conference Monday when a reporter pointed out that he could have announced the pay increases before the November election, Malloy replied “no one ever asked.”
The $1.4 million for the 3- to 12-percent pay increases was included in the 2015 budget, which is currently running a $31.6 million deficit.
“No one ever asked the question,” Malloy said. “I had four debates. I had numerous opportunities to answer questions. I had press conferences, was available to the press on a daily basis, no one ever asked.”
Malloy said the decision to give the raises hadn’t been made prior to the election. He said the decision was made last week.
“I was not going to have people work eight years at the same salary that they began in,” Malloy said. “So we made the adjustments basically for the start of the new administration.”
He said the salary increases, which included 12 percent raises for at least 36 of the 200 appointees, “are less than” what comparable positions in the judicial and legislative branches have received.
“They’re designed to make sure we have positions that attract good candidates or retain them,” Malloy said.
Asked if 12 percent was excessive, Malloy said “three percent per year is reasonable.”
He said many unionized state employees received 5 percent raises at a time when his commissioners and political appointees were receiving 0 percent.
At least four of the state agency heads who have announced their retirement or departure were also given salary increases. At least two of those four agency heads have served in state government for more than 10 years.
But the pay increase for five days may only help slightly when it comes to calculating their final payouts.
If the commissioners have unused vacation or sick days they could be paid out at the higher rate for those days, but the higher rate won’t necessarily play a big part in the overall pension calculation which, according to the state comptroller’s office, is based on the employee’s three highest earning years.