Plunderbund research reveals that GOP Senate President Tom Niehaus, leader of the brain trust behind a bill to strip benefits from rank and file public employees, and champion of a budget that makes painful cuts to nearly every program in the state, has now committed the ultimate act of hypocrisy.

Let’s remember, the Senate GOP is responsible for passing a state budget that steals hundreds of millions of dollars from local governments, redirecting it to the state’s piggybank – a move that forced mayors, county commissioners and township trustees statewide to decide between cutting vital services like police and fire, or raising taxes. It was also the Senate GOP that authored SB5, a “tool”, they claimed, that would help local leaders cope with these budget cuts by paying out less in wages and benefits.

So, naturally, President Niehaus and his caucus are leading by example, cutting costs and saving taxpayer dollars as they have encouraged local leaders to do, right?

Not exactly. In 2009, when tax collections slipped and every member of the Strickland administration, including the Governor, gave up ten days of pay – a 4% cut – the GOP-controlled Senate opted to preserve their full pay. And in 2009 — and again in 2011 — Senate leadership punted instead of passing legislation to cut the pay of future legislators by a modest 5%.

Now, in the most recent move, quietly, effective with the first paycheck of the new fiscal year, Niehaus has followed the lead of the Governor by rewarding his top staff with enormous taxpayer-funded pay increases. His Chief of Staff, Assistant Chief of Staff, Finance Director and Senate Clerk all received a $15,000 yearly pay increase. The Deputy Finance Directory received a whopping $23,005 increase.

Here are their new salaries:

Senate Staff Member Title New Estimated Yearly Salary
Matt Schuler Chief of Staff $138,507
Elizabeth Connolly Deputy Chief of Staff $116,126
Brian Perera Finance Director $115,232
Vincent Keera** Senate Clerk $116,230
Matt Whatley Deputy Dir of Finance $85,010

( Note: Our salary analysis was performed by comparing bi-weekly state employee payroll numbers from 4/23/2011 against the numbers for 7/30/2011. )

Furthermore, the increases were retroactive, such that on July 16, these same staffers each took home checks containing 26 weeks of back pay at the higher rate, as if their raises had been in place since January. Whatley received a check for $10,123.20. Perera got $11,930.40, Connolly $11,964.80. And Schuler took home $12,825.61 for a single 2-week pay period.

So, after passing SB5 which eliminates automatic 3% pay increases for state workers, the Senate handed their own staff raises ranging from 12 to 37%.

Senators’ pay is defined by Ohio law, so they are unable to give themselves raises without legislation, or we suspect they would have. But nothing stops them from paying their staff more, even in the face of enormous budget cuts across state and local government.

One last irony to note. While Republicans champion “merit pay” for other public workers, apparently it’s not good enough for them. Raises were given exclusively to Republican staffers; not a single member of the minority caucus staff received an increase. Sounds like politics, not merit, was behind the move.

** We missed Vincent Keera in the original post.

UPDATE:
Based on some questions in the comments, and information coming from other news sources, I thought it was important that we show our work. To be clear, we did our comparison based on two bi-weekly pay periods: 4/23/2011 and 7/30/2011. And we verified the new salary against the 8/13/2011 pay period as well.

Based on that data, the first four people listed above received $576.8 more per pay period, which totals to $14,996.80 per year (multiplied by 26 pay periods).

The fifth person went from $2,384.80 per biweekly pay period to $3,269.60 – which calculates to a raise of 884.8 per pay period or $23,004.80 per year.

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  • http://twitter.com/paulackerman Paul Ackerman

    Sounds like good copy for an Anti SB5 ad to me …

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/7MU6XCC3QXAPBJW4FFBE4NDRP4 James

    Why am I not surprised?  Paul is right…This stupidity is just more ammunition for our “Vote No” Issue 2 ads…So thanks Mr. Senate President…Jim, Columbus

  • Hungry Coyote

    I’m speechless, the arrogance of the Ohioan Republican Party is stupifying. I can’t wait to see how they explain this one.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=538327543 Terry Bowman

    If Senators are only making $60,584/year (wikipedia) then how are these lackeys making so much?

  • Anonymous

    There are hardly any Senators that make the minimum salary. They get salary boosters for serving in leadership or as chair or ranking member on a committee. For example, finance chair gets an additional $10,000. Bill Seitz, who lost his chairmanship over his no vote on SB5, may be the only one pulling down the minimum. Oh, and they also get unlimited sick days and reimbursement for every mile they drive to Columbus and back.

    Also, the staff spend every weekday of the year, and a lot of weekends in Columbus, unlike the Senators, many of whom only show up for a couple days during the weeks when they’re in session. Not saying $130K is justified, but they definitely work harder and know a lot more than the elected clowns they work for.

  • Anonymous

    They work hard and they know what is going on. I have had great conversations with state legislators’ staff people. They are young,  bright, enthusiastic, and love to talk politics. They are also generally kids with newly minted poli sci degrees getting their feet wet in government and figuring out where it’s going to take them. As I already mentioned, a Democratic state rep. today told me his staff person makes $30,000 a year. I might even be able to justify $60,000 or $70,000 for the chief of staff of the senate leader. Any more than that, nope — especially given the assault on far more highly skilled and experienced workers who serve US the citizens, not merely on lordly member of the legislature. I imagine most of us here could provide Niehaus with resumes of some promising young people who would be fully qualified for these jobs and glad to work for half these salaries. Shameful.

  • Fotgirlcb2002

    According to the NEW ohiotreasurer.gov salary inquirey page
    Shannon Jones Is making over $85,000
    she gets extra because the majority whip
    and she has out an double fold ad saying that firefighter,police and public union employees got big increases from 2000 to 2009
    NOT true my salary went down in 2008 and 09 because of cost savings days 20 days over 2 years
    On Ohio.gov theres something called the Legislators handbook — look at it tells you what the get — it will surprise you — a lot of it is the same stuff they are against for public union workers

  • Annekarina

    Darn that white rabbit!   Down the matrix he goes!  “last thing I remember, I was running for
    the door  I had to fiind the passage back to the place I was before  “relax” said the night man we are programmed to receive  You can check out any time you like, But you can never leave.

  • guest

    Hypocrite oops I mean liar = Elected and wanna be elected R. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Carrie-Preston/100000765994211 Carrie Preston

    Plunderbund I would like to use your blog in a letter to the editor. Is this kosher?

  • http://plunderbund.com Joseph

    Absolutely!  Feel free to reference Plunderbund whenever and wherever y0u want. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Carrie-Preston/100000765994211 Carrie Preston

    Plunderbund I would like to use your blog in a letter to the editor. Is this kosher?

  • https://me.yahoo.com/a/I36l6R0Ppv9Xrv7VDLT3Fa7Grs4huwhgxg--#c9aea PalliYour Name

    Are there typists/secretaries for the “statesmen”?  If so, did they get a windfall too?

  • Anonymous

    stay tuned…

  • Anonymous

    stay tuned…

  • Anonymous

    All this AND a bag of (casino) chips!  I can understand how the arrogant slugs can look at themselves in the mirror (they just keep telling themselves that they are worth so much more than the rest of us), but how do they keep such a strait face when looking at their constituents on the campaign trail Doubtless these snot-balls will have some elaborate lies when they appear on the news in Columbus to justify their superior wages, but they only have to tell the chamber of commerce “look at all of the legislation we are pushing to increase your profits”.  These guys all belong in a Bastille run by underpaid private corporation thugs.

  • Anonymous

    Yes, ours, but not their Teflon coated pirate asses.

  • John-David Hughes

    They only pay if you promise to screw decent folks, then do it. Trying doesn’t make them happy, only the complete wrecking of America will do.

  • Anonymous

    I had no idea wh0rin’ paid so well here in Ohio!

  • Fred F’in Davis

    “facts” do lie.  they did not exempt themselves from SB5.  the legislature was exempted from the original collective bargaining bill championed by pro-labor democrats in the 80’s. 

    your “facts” lied to you.

  • Anonymous

    They are still getting step increases, not merit pay. So even brand new provisions that have nothing to do with the 1983 law were applied unequally.

  • Fred brings the truth bombs

    Who is getting step increases?  Legislators are not.  They received increases from 2002 to 2008 and it was frozen in 2008.  

  • Anonymous

    we took a quick look at both and nobody jumped out at us as having gotten an increase, but let us know if you have any leads.

  • Anonymous

    we took a quick look at both and nobody jumped out at us as having gotten an increase, but let us know if you have any leads.

  • Hungry Coyote

    Any chance the lame strem media will cover this? Or are they all cozy in bed with Kasich, Niehaus, and Batchelder?

  • Fotgirlcb2002

    go back and read the 4th paragraph
    Strickland and his people did take cuts
    look it up its not hard to find

  • http://thesistown.com/ thesis help

    great post! thnaks a lot !

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1258886600 Dave Leskovec

    Since this leadership group of Kasich’s has come into control of our state government in January it has been a continual discourse of abuse of power, lies, and hypocrisy.  Starting with the removal of the Republican Senator from the committee to vote on SB5 the morning of the vote (I forget his name right now), to Kasich spending an unknown amount to improve the security at his home because the Governor’s mansion is not good enough for him to live in, to backdooring SB5 provisions into the state budget (which a budget
    is not where legislation is to be made) when the administration realized SB5 was going to be put on the ballot for a referendum vote.  Why should tis come as any surprise.

  • Anonymous

    These clowns are only worth the raises because Niehause says they are, and coming from a guy who rammed through SB5 to deprive teachers, police and firefighters of their raises, this is the summit of despotism.  Sorry, “Guest”, but there is no defense for this kind of plundering.

  • https://me.yahoo.com/a/I36l6R0Ppv9Xrv7VDLT3Fa7Grs4huwhgxg--#c9aea PalliYour Name

    Wonder how much of the salaries each staff person will contribute to GOP candidates?

  • Real Get Real

    Budish didn’t point the finger at teachers and police and demanding they take massive cuts nor blame them for the problems in Ohio caused by poor GOP policies at the national and state level.    The current GOP should hold themselves to the same standards they insist for everyone else in health care, retirement, and pay cuts.   If the “tools” of SB5 are good enough to hammer working Ohioans, they are good enough for these part-time legislators.

    Guest, you need to get out of the bubble, don’t believe what you read in the Dispatch and realize that Kasich and the rest of the current GOP cares little for Ohio and it is all about self interest, vindictive payback, and keep the big money interests fat, rich, and happy.

    I used to vote GOP quite a bit – but never again.

    “shared sacrifice” – the Republicans get their share, the rest of us have to sacrifice.

  • Anonymous

    This cannot be for real. They cannot have this much chutzpah. They really cannot be this brazen. You have to be making this up. What kind of thought process at this time could really have led to anyone doing this? I told a bunch of people people about this today at the 11th Congressional District picnic and people were slack-jawed. I met a Democratic state representative from this area today who I had never met before and mentioned this, and he was beyond slack-jawed. He goes, “My chief of staff makes $30,000.”

    Exactly.

  • http://plunderbund.com Joseph

    Unfortunatley, it is true. To be clear, I based my numbers on the bi-weekly payroll data from DAS. Mandel’s site has slightly different estimates for the year ( http://ohiotreasurer.gov/State_Salary/Matt_Schuler ). Either way, the raises are still much bigger than the 3% step raises they are trying to eliminate.

  • matt

    Dear Plunderbund and my fellow Democrats, one thing that HB 5 shows is that we should not begrudge anyone their income or benefits.  I know very well each of the individuals mentioned in this post.  And while I obviously did not always agree with them, there is no doubt in my mind that they well earn their salaries. Regardless of how readers feel about their political affiliation, these individuals are dedicated, hard-working public servants.  Just like our teachers, police officers, and firefighters, they get up everyday (and work overtime and holidays) to serve the people of Ohio.  When I worked in the Strickland Administration, my agency was able to accomplish many successes, because of the cooperation and advocacy of these individuals- including the $700 million renewal of the Third Frontier, $100 million for a co-op and internship program, and a two-year tuition freeze at all of our state institutions of higher education.  I have served numerous Democratic legislators in both Pennsylvania and Ohio.   Trust me, these are some of the best.
    While I am at it, I’d like put out a ‘thank you’ to the Senate and House Democratic Chiefs-of-Staff and their caucus staffs.  I don’t know what they make – but I am sure it is not nearly enough.

  • http://plunderbund.com Joseph

    Thanks for the comment Matt.

    Please don’t take this personally. This post wasn’t intended to implicate or demonize Republican legislative staff and I absolutely agree that Schuler, Perera, et al. – like most government employees – are dedicated, hardworking individuals who could probably earn a lot more in the private sector than they do working for the state.

    But, deserving or not, it’s very hard to defend 10-20+% pay increases for legislative staff when Kasich, Niehaus and Batchelder have spent the past 8 months trying to convince Ohioans that other, non-politically-appointed public employees like police officers, fire fighters and teachers are lazy, overpaid, ‘idiots’.

  • matt

    Thanks Joseph.

  • Anonymous

    Matt, I know many, many teachers. Many of them teach at inner-city schools where the students face such steep challenges that they are virtually certain to be in the bottom 10 percent of schools, requiring the already strapped Cleveland Metropolitan School District to spring for meaningless tests for these teachers whose command of their subject matter is not even remotely in question. They well earn their salaries and they don’t make nearly enough — and virtually all of them make less than Niehaus’ lowest paid staff member. Yes, legislative staff work hard, but they are mostly fairly green kids whose experience and training is far less than the average teacher. And even the more experienced ones are serving a far more limited interest in terms of benefit to the whole state than a teacher. To say that somehow a lower-level legislative aide is worthy to earn $85,000 with a $23,000 raise, when it’s most likely a position that actually merited the previous salary, while a teacher is worth $25,000 or $30,000 a year less than that defies belief — especially when your boss is insisting schools simply can’t afford to pay teachers that much anymore no matter how qualified they are. So I am saying that the taxpayers also cannot afford to pay Matt Schuler that much anymore, no matter how qualified he is. If teachers (and police officers and social workers and firemen) are going to be punished for shrinking private sector salaries, then it is certainly appropriate that legislative aides are too. It isn’t like Ohio colleges and universities aren’t cranking out hundreds of bright young people who could easily fill these jobs.

  • luv2teach

    Brilliant! Well, said.

  • https://me.yahoo.com/a/I36l6R0Ppv9Xrv7VDLT3Fa7Grs4huwhgxg--#c9aea PalliYour Name

    Hardworking can be applied to many people; let’s have a little equity here.

  • Fotogirlcb2002

    We can appreciate good fellow workers.
    BUT the point is  ALL state employees at the lower levels  have been “whipped” because of money we supposedly make and the benefits we have.
    I notice while we are getting beaten down no one ever wants to tell what their benefits are.( I bet their pension for one year could pay all my bills) 
    This administration has preached “we have no money” until I am sick of hearing it.
    Many people work hard and are honest –I dont know that a one of them has gotten a $10,ooo or more as a “bonus”.
    While they are racking up big money over 1300 corrections folk are due to loose their jobs by the end of the year. 
    Actually I thinks its bad for both parties to do this. 
    In fact IF they are truly these wonderful folk why did they take this money?
    Niehaus is one of rudest people I have ever heard speak.
    There should be set salaries for all these people  with one raise per year and it should be a merit raise.

  • Fotogirlcb2002

    PS>>>>  I dont begrudge anyone a fair wage — but is this what you call fair?
    Thats why there is SB5  they begrudge us a fair wage —
    but is it really about wages  or is it about power.

  • http://twitter.com/Damn_The_Man Daniel Hoffman

    If $115,000 a year is a fair wage I’m willing to concede a little and take an unfair one. 

  • Paul Duncan

    They all need to goto jail for a few days, retroactive starting last January.

  • http://twitter.com/Damn_The_Man Daniel Hoffman

    What a bunch of scumbags. 

    All that can really be said is that it’s easy to take from people you never actually see or meet. When you have to work with people every day it’s a little bit harder to take from them.. or even maintain the status quo. Obviously Tom Niehaus is that sort of man, a coward in person but fearsome when he’s behind the protection of a government position. 

  • Misterg

    as a mostly moderate tempered voter in the SW portion of the state, this behavior is abhorrent.  However, I believe that due to the general apathy of the average OH citizen and the lack of evaluating these issues with both eyes and the brain between them wide open, this will not have legs.  So unfortunate.

  • Anonymous

    Just to be clear Matt Schuler is the Chief of Staff to the entire State Senate Republican Caucus, which means he works for all the Republican members, and this applies to all the staff referenced in this article aside from Vincent Keera who is the Clerk for the entire State Senate (both the majority and minority caucuses). Still even considering this fact they are grossly overpaid (even though I can testify that the caucus staff does much more work and are at work much much more often then the actual legislators).

  • http://plunderbund.com Joseph

    We did our comparison based on two bi-weekly pay periods: 4/23/2011 and 7/30/2011. And we verified the new salary against the 8/13/2011 pay period as well.

    Based on that data, each of the four people listed above received $576.8 more per pay period, which totals to $14,996.80 per year (multiplied by 26 pay periods).

    I’m going to add this to the post so it’s clear.

  • http://plunderbund.com Joseph

    We did our comparison based on two bi-weekly pay periods: 4/23/2011 and 7/30/2011. And we verified the new salary against the 8/13/2011 pay period as well.

    Based on that data, each of the four people listed above received $576.8 more per pay period, which totals to $14,996.80 per year (multiplied by 26 pay periods).

    I’m going to add this to the post so it’s clear.

  • http://plunderbund.com Joseph

    We did our comparison based on two bi-weekly pay periods: 4/23/2011 and 7/30/2011. And we verified the new salary against the 8/13/2011 pay period as well.

    Based on that data, each of the four people listed above received $576.8 more per pay period, which totals to $14,996.80 per year (multiplied by 26 pay periods).

    I’m going to add this to the post so it’s clear.

  • http://plunderbund.com Joseph

    We did our comparison based on two bi-weekly pay periods: 4/23/2011 and 7/30/2011. And we verified the new salary against the 8/13/2011 pay period as well.

    Based on that data, each of the four people listed above received $576.8 more per pay period, which totals to $14,996.80 per year (multiplied by 26 pay periods).

    I’m going to add this to the post so it’s clear.

  • Jwilmington68

    This is the worst kind of hypocrisy.  How dare Kasich and his staff tell firefighters and cops that they are making too much money and then turn around and give out these kinds of raises. Absolutely absurd.

    While I did not vote for Kasich, I did vote for some of the Republicans who are pushing these anti-worker bills. I regret that and will not be making that mistake again.

  • Thisonesforujunior

    Lets not forget to mention, that after just one term as a state rep your health  insuarnce is taken care of for life.

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