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September 18, 2014

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Oversight’ blamed for governor’s lag in giving salary back

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CARSON CITY – In his State of the State address Feb. 8, Gov. Jim Gibbons boasted that both he and his staff are giving back 6 percent of their pay to help offset the state’s budget crisis and boost teacher pay.

But state accounting records show the governor’s contributions on his $141,000 salary are lagging. The records show he hasn’t made a donation to the special fund to award exceptional teachers since Jan. 5.

As of Feb. 17, Gibbons had contributed $1,834 to the fund, or 2.1 percent of his salary. He wrote a catch-up check of $733 on Nov. 23 and then made donations of $366 on Dec. 3, Dec. 26 and Jan. 5.

He recommended a 6 percent cut in the salaries of state workers to the 2009 Legislature, which instead opted for a one-day-a-month furlough, or a loss of 4.6 percent in salary starting last July 1.

In his State of the State speech, Gibbons said the furlough program isn’t fair because it hits some state workers and not others. He said further salary reductions for state employees might be necessary.

“And just so you know, my entire staff in the governor’s office has had their pay cut 6 percent. I am donating 6 percent of my own salary back to the state to be used for special awards for exceptional teachers," Gibbons said.

Dan Burns, communications director for Gibbons, said there was an “oversight” in the governor’s office. He said the governor pre-wrote the checks. And there was a job switch in the office. The checks were supposed to be delivered to the education fund every two weeks and “it fell through the cracks” when two workers exchanged jobs.

“We’re working to correct the situation,” Burns said.

The staff in the governor’s office is taking the furloughs and also contributing an extra 1.4 percent in salary to arrive at the total of 6 percent, Burns said.

If the governor had contributed 4.6 percent of his pay for the first six months of this year, the amount would be in excess of $3,200. A 6 percent donation would have been $4,230 for a six-month period.

Records show most other constitutional officers, who earn less than the governor, have returned more money to the state’s general fund.

Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto, who earns $133,000, has contributed $5,971, or 4.6 percent, for the full fiscal year. Secretary of State Ross Miller, whose salary is $97,000, is having weekly deductions that started in December.

Treasurer Kate Marshall, who also is paid $97,000, has contributed $3,300 so far. Her full amount for the fiscal year will be $4,400 to equal 4.6 percent.

Controller Kim Wallin has returned $1,902, and $163 is being withdrawn from her check every two weeks to reach the 4.6 percent reduction. She also earns $97,000 a year.

Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki wrote a check for $1,000 and will have to chip in $1,380 before the end of the year to reach the 4.6 percent. He earns $60,000 but is paid extra for presiding over the Senate.

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