AP NEWS

House panel endorses rollback of technology chief’s pay

February 26, 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. Republican lawmakers in Kentucky have advanced a bill to roll back the giant pay raise GOP Gov. Matt Bevin gave to the state's chief technology official. The bill that cleared a House committee on Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2019, could result in a pay cut of about $175,000 for Grindle, the state's chief information officer. (Matt Stone /Courier Journal via AP)

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky’s chief technology official would have his salary slashed by about $175,000 under a bill supported by Republican lawmakers to roll back a six-figure pay raise awarded by Gov. Matt Bevin.

The bill advanced Tuesday by the House Appropriations and Revenue Committee takes aim at Charles Grindle’s salary as the state’s chief information officer. The vote was the latest example of the GOP-dominated legislature’s willingness to buck the Republican governor.

The Courier Journal revealed in stories last year that Bevin raised Grindle’s salary from $160,000 a year to $375,000 — more than double what the governor makes.

House Majority Floor Leader John “Bam” Carney said Tuesday that his bill reflects concerns about the disparity between Grindle’s pay and salaries for technology chiefs in other states.

The measure headed to the House floor would prohibit the salary for Kentucky’s technology chief from exceeding the pay received by the highest-paid counterpart in bordering states. The highest salary in a neighboring state is currently $200,112, Carney said.

“You’ve got to pay for the talent, but that seemed to be a big gap,” Carney told reporters.

Carney, a leading House Republican, said he hadn’t heard from Bevin or anyone in the governor’s administration about the bill.

The measure sailed through the House committee without any opposition. The governor’s office did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment. Bevin has said taxpayers are getting “a steal” with the higher salary, pointing to Grindle’s experience.

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

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.

Carney told reporters on Tuesday that constituents and others have expressed concerns about the “extreme level” of the salary awarded to Grindle.

“This is an issue that deals with one particular job that I feel like taxpayers are paying more than maybe they necessarily need to,” Carney said.

Asked if he thinks the governor might veto the bill if it reaches his desk, Carney replied: “He’ll have to do what he sees best.” If the measure were to be vetoed, he said, lawmakers would “make a decision where we go from there.”

In an earlier rift between the governor and the legislature, Bevin last year vetoed the state’s two-year operating budget and an accompanying sales tax increase. Lawmakers overrode him.

Late last year, Bevin called lawmakers back to the Capitol for a special session to vote on a public pension bill that had been struck down by the state Supreme Court. Lawmakers adjourned without passing any bills.

This year, Republican Rep. Ken Upchurch filed House Bill 4, which would give the legislature more control over administrative regulations. The Bevin administration opposed the bill, with a representative from the Cabinet for Health and Family Services testifying against it during a committee meeting. House Republican leaders called the bill for a vote on Monday. It passed 94-0.

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Associated Press Writer Adam Beam in Frankfort contributed to this report.

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The legislation is House Bill 499.