NASHVILLE - The head of a state employees' group today called it a "slap in the face" for Republican Gov. Bill Haslam to have hiked the minimum pay of state commissioners by 11 percent to $150,000 a year.
"We are shocked to hear this," Tennessee State Employees Association President Phil Morson said in a statement.
Morson said the "remainder of the state employee workforce has gone over 3 years with no salary increase, but the governor gives his cabinet huge raises as they walk in the door."
"This is unfair. It is a slap in the face to the everyday state worker who has the same right as those at the top to be valued for their hard work and competence."
The Associated Press reported Wednesday that Haslam quietly increased the minimum pay for commissioners.
Morson said he hopes Haslam and lawmakers "will take swift action to address this painful inequity."
Haslam has proposed a 1.6 percent raise for state employees.
Haslam spokesman David Smith said "it is the governor's philosophy that we should have a leaner state government but we should pay state employees better."
"Each department is undergoing a top-to-bottom review with the goal of efficiency in providing the core services government is responsible for," Smith said. "The governor believes that each of those commissioners will end up saving the state a whole lot more money than the cost of their salary."