Wolf started second term with hefty raises to senior aides

The Associated Press
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf gestures while former governor Tom Ridge applauds during Wolf's second inauguration ceremony outside the state capitol Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2019. Wolf beat fellow York Countian Scott Wagner in the November midterm election. Bill Kalina photo

HARRISBURG – About a dozen of Gov. Tom Wolf’s senior aides are starting his second term with pay raises that ranged from $25,000 to $33,000.

The recipients include members of the Democratic governor’s public relations staff and deputy chiefs of staff who coordinate between the governor’s office and various executive branch departments.

Wolf approved the raises late last year, after winning re-election.

Five deputy chiefs of staff saw their salaries increase by 27%, or $32,000, to $148,000.

Wolf spokesman J.J. Abbott said the increases are about what similar employees earn in the private sector and reflect the recipients’ responsibilities.

Abbott received a $9,000 raise to $125,000, and three deputy press secretaries saw their income increase by more than $25,000 to $118,000.

Wolf’s scheduler saw an increase of $33,000 to $125,000.

“The governor’s office is responsible for the functions of a 70,000-person, $80 billion organization that is the second-largest employer in Pennsylvania,” Abbott said. “These positions are some of the most high-level in state government, are responsible for overseeing the entire or specific work of multiple major state agencies.”

The deputy chiefs of staff had been hired as special assistants in the $100,000 salary range, he said, and were given additional responsibilities with the new titles.

Abbott said deputy chiefs of staff under Wolf’s predecessor, Republican Gov. Tom Corbett, were paid $145,000 at the end of Corbett’s tenure.

The higher pay for the press aides was designed to put them on par with spokespeople working in other parts of state government under Wolf’s jurisdiction, Abbott said.

Wolf, who approved the raises, is a wealthy businessman who largely self-funded his successful 2014 primary. He donates his gubernatorial salary to United Way organizations across the state.