PITTSBURGH - A Target 11 investigation uncovered thousands of Pennsylvania state employees earning more than $100,000 a year.
State Representative Mike Turzai’s chief of staff Krystjan Callahan got a $27,000 dollar raise last year, bumping his salary to $165,000. He was already making more than his boss, but that increase pushed him well ahead of Turzai’s salary of $121,000.
The increase drew sharp criticism from fellow republican Daryl Metcalfe.
“You have staff making more than the people they work for, and that's an issue,” said Metcalfe, of Cranberry.
Turzai’s office defended the increase, saying that a number of legislative workers earn more than their bosses, and they said that Callahan’s salary is still below other chiefs of staff.
Target 11 discovered they are among the more than 5,000 state employees, or six percent of the workforce, who earned more than $100,000 last year. The median household income in Pennsylvania is $52,000.
In the state auditor general’s office, 24 employees earn more than six figures. Target 11 Investigator Rick Earle sat down with auditor general Eugene DePasquale, who earns $156,000.
Earle asked DePasquale if the employees in his office are worth the six figure salaries.
“You are trying to recruit the best and the most capable into these positions so it is important that you pay them a good wage,” said DePasquale.
Nearly half of the state employees making six figures come from the system of higher education. Many of them are professors at colleges and universities.
Others include doctors and psychiatrists, some of whom work for the Department of Public Welfare or the Department of Health. The list also includes judges and attorneys.
The top earner in the state last year was the chancellor of higher education, Frank Brogan, who pulled in $327,000.
“You shouldn't be making a killing off it at the taxpayers,” said Metcalfe.
Representative Metcalfe, a republican, makes $84,000, and he is concerned about the rising state government salaries. A decade ago, approximately one thousand state workers earned six figures.
Metcalfe said in light of these six figure salaries, he’s now considering drafting legislation that would set salary limits.
“I think as the public understands this that they would be outraged. (We) really ought to look at drafting some legislation to deal with these out of control salaries,” Metcalfe told Earle.
Target 11 wanted to know how Pennsylvania stacks up against some other states? In Maryland, for instance, about six percent of the workers make more than $100,000 and in Illinois, it’s about 8 percent of the work force.