Indiana governor boosting salaries to some in key posts

Gov. Eric Holcomb is boosting the salaries for some people in his young administration's key posts—an effort his spokesman says is intended to hold onto that talent.

Six months into his term as Indiana's governor, Holcomb has 17 full-time staffers paid from governor's office funds and making a combined $1.5 million. In contrast, then-Gov. Mike Pence had 16 full-time staffers paid from his office budget and making a combined $1.27 million at the end of his tenure, The Journal Gazette of Fort Wayne reported.

Holcomb spokeswoman Stephanie Wilson said that the governor knows that to get good people you need to pay them well.

"The governor set the bar high. He wanted the best people who could come in and hit the ground running, and he got it," she said, adding that pay "is part of getting good people, period."

Many of the salaries of those running state agencies under Holcomb have remained at or near those of the previous administration, but a handful have seen notable pay boosts.

Those include Joe McGuinness, who is making $165,000 as the head of the Indiana Department of Transportation. That's a significant increase from his predecessor, Brandye Hendrickson, who made $144,457 when she led the agency.

And Jennifer Walthall, who had been a deputy state health commissioner, is now making $185,000 as head of the Family and Social Services Administration. That compares to the $173,000 salary of her predecessor, John Wernert.

Holcomb has also created several new high-level positions in his administration since taking office in January. Last week, he created a new cabinet position of secretary of career connections and talent and announced that Blair Milo, the mayor of LaPorte, would fill it. Milo will interact with several agencies to help prepare Indiana's workforce for the future.

Her pay is $171,500, making her the 32nd highest-paid state employee, including all three branches of government.

Wilson said that overall, Holcomb's administration is running leaner. The office currently has 33 employees, compared with more than 40 under Pence.

She said that having fewer employees leaves leeway for salaries.

The overall budget for the governor's office this year is about $2.1 million, slightly lower than last year's appropriation for the governor's office.

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