RALEIGH – Speaker of the N.C. House Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) officially launched his new term last week, and there are a handful of people whose bank accounts are quite happy about it. The Speaker’s office has a total payroll of $1.1 million, and it features a familiar name.
With the top leadership role in the House, it makes sense that Moore would get paid a higher salary than the base level $13,000+ a year that rank and file members make. Moore will make a salary just under $40,000, which is dwarfed, not only by the paydays he gets for his other ‘part-time’ taxpayer-funded work, but by his top staff salaries as well.
The Speaker’s Chief of Staff, Scott “Bart” Goodson, will earn a salary of $177,423, the highest on the payroll. Jonathan Sink, who replaces Leah Burns as the deputy chief, will earn $104,475.
Six people will serve as policy advisors, including former Wake County representative Nelson Dollar, who as Senior Advisor will make $117,495. The other advisors are Lewis King ($85,672), Daniel Gurley ($84,000), Shelby Armentrout ($71,495), Cory Bryson ($69,395) and Christopher Pittman ($54,350).
The staff also comprises of Director of Communications ($75,900), Director of Boards, Communications and Constituent Services ($75,789), Executive Assistant ($59,350), Caucus Communications Liaison ($52,250), Research Assistant and Paralegal ($41,310) and two interns ($13,625 and $9,100).
All positions at the General Assembly are paid for by taxpayers as part of the state budget, which this fiscal year totals $23.9 billion. Appropriations for salaries at the General Assembly are $67.3 million, including the $1.1 million for the Speaker and his staff.”
So, taxpayers will shell out over a $67 million to people who will then do their best to spend almost $24 billion in taxpayers’ revenues. Great.
The name that should have popped out in the above is that of Nelson Dollar. After Wake County voters decided they had seen enough of Dollar, and a whole slue of other moderate suburban Republicans, he lands right back on Jones Street to pull down a six-figure salary on their dime. As former budget chief, Dollar, via his new role as the Speaker’s senior advisor, is bound to have a lot of influence on appropriations during this long legislative session.
Last year’s short session, which includes midterm modifications to the biennial budget, featured more than $30 million in pork barrel spending. Expect more of the same in this year’s brand new biennial budget, with Dollar’s behind-the-scenes influence being significant.
Dollar has also been intertwined with Medicaid administration during his time in the House, and as such may serve as a key advisor when the Democratic caucus and Gov. Roy Cooper make the inevitable push for Medicaid expansion. Our confidence that his advice to leadership will be to resist expansion out of pure Republican principle is decidedly low. His senior role in the Speaker’s office is an indication that the new, weakened Republican majority in the House is prepared to make a lot more concessions than conservatives will like.