Republicans took over in Raleigh promising to change the culture — No More Business As Usual. Now we have our Republican governor defending a questionable practice by claiming he’s only doing the same thing Bev Perdue did:
House leaders are OK with a quiet decision by the McCrory administration to pay some of the governor’s staff salaries with highway tax dollars, but the Senate has a different idea:
Nip it in the budget.
The Senate budget shines a spotlight on unreported transfers of more than $267,000 from the state Department of Transportation to the governor’s budget, and it says the move will be tolerated for one more year only. The House budget accepts the money shift without mentioning it.
The DOT transfer was authorized last year by the Office of State Budget and Management. Legislative staffers told House and Senate budget committees they discovered it a few weeks ago.
This is a new transfer that has not been made before,” fiscal researcher Amna Cameron told the Senate Appropriations Transportation Subcommittee on Tuesday.
But a spokesman for Gov. Pat McCrory said the Republican governor simply expanded on a practice that began with his Democratic predecessor, former Gov. Bev Perdue.[...]
OK. So, we’re paying one of the highest gas taxes in the country, and are getting ready to be saddled with toll roads, because we allegedly don’t have enough money to properly fund our maintenance and construction needs. But we DO apparently have enough money in the DOT budget to pay for some of Gov. Pat’s employees. What did that highway money pay for inside the governor’s office, you ask? :
[…] DOT money pays the full salaries of Jonathan Harris, McCrory’s assistant legal counsel, and a vacant communications specialist position. And DOT funds pay about 35 percent of the salaries for Ryan Tronovitch, deputy communications director; Dion Terry, policy analyst; Phillip Christofferson, boards and commissions specialist; and former state Rep. Fred Steen, the governor’s chief lobbyist.
Tronovitch said McCrory had enlarged the list of staff positions paid for, originally by Perdue, with DOT money.
“How these positions were funded was a decision that was made by the previous administration,” Tronovitch said June 5 by email. He said the two fully paid jobs were added “at our request.” […]
OK. So money meant to pay for roads is going into the pockets of press flacks and political hacks. Remember that the next time you fill up at the tank or pay that toll. And that excuse that the governor should be excused because his predecessor did the same thing? Most of us don’t buy spin like that from our kids. And we definitely should not buy it from a leader we “hired” to drain the sewer in Raleigh.