Number of higher-paid S.C. House, Senate staffers increasing

October 19, 2018

Investigative Reports

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By RICK BRUNDRETT

The number of higher-paid staffers in the S.C. House and Senate keeps growing along with the annual chamber budgets.

The House employs 75 staffers earning at least $50,000 annually, compared to 58 in 2015, chamber records show. The Senate has 68 employees in the $50,000-plus group, up from 60 in 2015.

House Clerk Charles Reid and Senate Clerk Jeffrey Gossett receive $191,172 and $206,016, respectively, annually as the top administrators for their respective chambers. Including Reid and Gossett, 27 staffers in both chambers earn at least $100,000 yearly.

The 124-member House has 91 permanent, full-time employees, while the 46-member Senate – despite less than half the size of the House – employs 110 staffers, records show. The House and Senate also use college students as part-time pages; a state budget proviso allows the House to have up to 144 pages this fiscal year to be “available for any necessary service” to the chamber.

Unlike most other state agencies, neither the House nor Senate participates in the online state salary database. The Nerve obtained staff salary lists for the chambers after recently submitting state Freedom of Information Act requests.

As with the number of higher-paid employees, the total budgets for each chamber have steadily grown in recent years. The ratified House and Senate budgets for the fiscal year that started July 1 are $22.3 million and $14.6 million, respectively, compared to $21.6 million and $13.3 million, respectively, for fiscal 2015.

And both chambers are sitting on relatively large reserves. The Nerve reported last month that the House had a $25 million surplus in general funds as of July 1 – nearly $2.9 million more than its base budget for 2017-18 – while the Senate carried over $6.1 million into this fiscal year, which represented 43 percent of its base budget last fiscal year.

Under an annually renewed budget proviso, the House speaker and Senate president pro tempore “shall determine the amount necessary for compensation of the employees of the House and Senate” from “funds appropriated for Employee Pay Increases.”

Longtime Sen. Hugh Leatherman, R-Florence, has at least a dozen staffers under his authority as the Senate president pro tempore and chairman of the budget-writing Senate Finance Committee, according to the chamber staff list. That includes Mike Shealy, the Finance Committee’s budget director; and John Hazzard, whose title is “counsel to the president pro tempore.” Shealy and Hazzard are the highest-paid Senate employees after Gossett.

Following are the Senate staffers who receive at least $100,000 annually, records show:

  • Jeffrey Gossett, Senate clerk: $206,016
  • Mike Shealy, budget director, Finance Committee: $172,727
  • John Hazzard, counsel to the president pro tempore: $166,320
  • Ken Moffitt, assistant clerk of the Senate: $153,325
  • Angie Willis, assistant director for budget development, Finance Committee: $140,271
  • Andy Fiffick, research director/chief of staff, Judiciary Committee: $135,000
  • Grant Gibson, assistant director for tax policy, Finance Committee: $123,146
  • Rick Harmon, research director, Joint Bond Review Committee: $122,299
  • Brenda Estridge-Hart, senior budget analyst: $120,000
  • Paul Benson, assistant research director, Judiciary Committee: $110,000
  • Erin Crawford, staff attorney, Judicial Merit Selection Commission: $105,924
  • Martha Casto: research director, Education Committee:  $105,315
  • Beth Dworjanyn, director, Senate Finance Office: $103,547
  • J.J. Gentry, research director, Ethics Committee: $101,993

Below are the House employees who receive at least $100,000 yearly, records show:

  • Charles Reid, House clerk: $191,172
  • Michael Anzelmo, chief of staff/legal counsel to the House speaker: $190,017
  • Don Hottel, assistant clerk in charge of House research: $140,615
  • Pierce McNair, director, Education and Public Works Committee: $139,603
  • Emma Dean, chief counsel, Judiciary Committee: $128,724
  • Daniel Boan, chief of staff/general counsel, Ways and Means Committee: $128,000
  • Rena Grant, legislative director, Ways and Means Committee: $128,000
  • Steve Davidson, chief counsel, Labor, Commerce and Industry Committee: $120,011
  • Jennifer Dobson, director, Legislative Oversight Committee: $118,645
  • Mitch Dorman, sergeant at arms: $110,317
  • Mary Folgers, House Journal clerk: $101,966
  • Jane Shuler, staff counsel, Ethics Committee: $100,181
  • Mary Cauthen, director, Medical, Military, Public and Municipal Affairs Committee: $100,110

Brundrett is the news editor of The Nerve. Contact him at 803-254-4411 or rick@thenerve.org. Follow him on Twitter @RickBrundrett. Follow The Nerve on Facebook and Twitter @thenervesc.

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