Politics

A legislative panel has unanimously passed a bill to cut in half the salary of the state’s chief information officer, who happens to be a longtime friend of Gov. Matt Bevin.

The move comes after the Louisville Courier Journal reported last summer that Bevin gave Charles Grindle a $160,000 per year raise, making him the highest paid official in state government.

In fact, at $375,000, Grindle is the highest paid chief information officer in any state, according to the Council of State Governments.

Rep. John “Bam” Carney, a Republican from Campbellsville, said the proposal to cut Grindle’s salary is “not necessarily a hit on the governor.”

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

Bevin has defended Grindle’s pay, saying that he is experienced enough to get a higher salary in the private sector.

The Courier Journal reported that Bevin has known Grindle for more than 30 years; they served in the Army together.

The raise came after lawmakers exempted the chief information officer position from the law that caps state worker salaries at $163,992 in the two-year budget that passed last year. That language was added to the budget at Bevin’s request.

Carney said when he voted in favor of the language, he had no idea that Bevin would raise Grindle’s salary by that much.

“I did not expect it to be that number at all. This is just a follow up and cleanup to that, to bring that in to what many members and many of my constituents see to be more reasonable,” Carney said.

“I acknowledge, you’ve got to pay for the talent but that seemed to be a big gap.”

The bill to limit Grindle’s salary passed unanimously out of the House Appropriations and Revenue Committee Tuesday.

Because the legislation deals with spending money, it would need a three-fifths majority in both the House and the Senate to pass. It would also need to be signed by Bevin.

Rep. Kelly Flood, a Democrat from Lexington, said the state needs to live within the boundaries it sets on salaries.

“Any way that we as a legislative body can show a tempering of extremes on salaries, I think we’re doing wise,” Flood said.

Ryland Barton is the Capitol bureau chief for Kentucky Public Radio.