Local News

Audit Questions Some Raises For Legislative Workers

Posted September 12, 2006

— The method of giving out raises for state legislative employees has been a source of resentment for years within North Carolina's government. Legislative leaders have authority to dole out raises to staff above and beyond the hikes that all state workers get.

A new audit by North Carolina's Office of the State Auditor doesn't question whether the raises are deserved, but investigators are questioning the process in a few cases.

"There's that issue of fairness to the other employees and also the lack of documentation and a clearly stated policy," said Chris Mears, public affairs director for the auditor's office.

House Speaker Jim Black and Senate President Pro Tem Marc Basnight dictate more than which bills get consideration. By statute, they oversee pay for 315 legislative staffers, from attorneys to clerks and interns.

The audit targets 15 of those staffers who received pay raises in excess of the 10 percent legislative threshold in the past year. Investigators said the hikes were given with limited or no documentation.

Representatives for Basnight and Black said the two leaders have every legal right to approve the raises. The 15 people in question did not work in the two men's offices, but in other legislative support positions. As for additional workload, the number of bills filed this past session increased by 50 percent.


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