AP NEWS

Senate panel endorses rollback of technology chief’s pay

March 12, 2019
FILE - In this Nov. 15, 2018 file photo, Charles Grindle, Kentucky's chief technology officer, talks bout the changes he's made during his tenure overseeing the state's IT infrastructure in Frankfort, Ky. A Kentucky Senate committee has endorsed a bill to slash the salary of the state's chief technology official by about $175,000. The bill that advanced Tuesday, March 12, 2019, takes aim at Charles Grindle’s salary as the state’s chief information officer. (Matt Stone/Courier Journal via AP)

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — A bill that would slash the salary for Kentucky’s chief technology official by about $175,000 cleared another hurdle Tuesday as the Republican-led legislature moved closer to rolling back a six-figure pay raise awarded by GOP Gov. Matt Bevin.

The measure advanced by the Senate Appropriations and Revenue Committee takes aim at Charles Grindle’s salary as the state’s chief information officer. The Courier Journal revealed in stories last year that Bevin raised Grindle’s salary from $160,000 a year to $375,000.

Lawmakers have responded with the bill that would prohibit the salary for Kentucky’s technology chief from exceeding the pay received by the highest-paid counterpart in bordering states. The bill’s supporters have said the highest salary in a neighboring state is $200,112.

The measure quickly cleared the Senate panel with little discussion. Afterward, Republican Sen. Chris McDaniel, the committee chairman, said lawmakers have frequently looked at pay scales in surrounding states when determining public salaries in Kentucky.

“I still think we can hire good, high-quality talent as long as we remain regionally competitive,” he told reporters.

The committee action leaves the bill one step away from final passage. The measure could receive a Senate vote as soon as Wednesday. If it passes there without any changes, the bill would go to Bevin.

The governor’s office did not immediately respond to an email Tuesday seeking comment. Bevin has said taxpayers are getting “a steal” with the higher salary, pointing to Grindle’s experience. During his long military career, Grindle served as an information technology officer.

So far, the bill has won strong support with every vote, serving as the latest example of the legislature’s willingness to buck the governor.

Asked if he expects Bevin to veto the measure, McDaniel told reporters: “We’ll just have to see. That’s his prerogative.”

He said the House-passed bill has “pretty broad support” in the Senate, adding: “If it gets called for a vote, it will pass.”

During an appearance before a legislative panel late last year, Grindle outlined staffing changes, debt reduction and cost savings since he took charge of the Commonwealth Office of Technology. Grindle later told reporters he didn’t know how his pay raise came about, and that he had no salary requirements when Bevin approached him about the job.

Bevin and Grindle are friends, having met while serving in the U.S. Army decades ago.

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The legislation is House Bill 499.