Public hearing on state Cabinet pay raises draws little input

The state Department of Administration held a public hearing Friday on Gov. Lincoln Chafee's proposed pay raises for state directors.

The proposal has generated a lot of opposition from Republicans, University of Rhode Island faculty and others, but there was little of that fire at the hearing.

The governor proposed a 6 percent increase for his directors this year.

Chafee said the raise is based on merit. He said his Cabinet deserves them because of their hard work drafting balanced budgets during difficult times.

The governor said the positions have not received raises in 10 years. Most of Chafee's team has only been in place for two years.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees was the only group to speak during Friday's hearing.

The union didn't speak against it, but made it clear if directors got raises they wanted their people to get them too.

"We represent approximately 4,000 state employees who do the day-to-day work here in the state of Rhode Island," said Michael Downey, president of AFSCME Council 94. "We want to let the governor's office, the president and the General Assembly know that we would demand to be treated with the same respect that the governors proposing for his directors here this morning."

After the hearing, NBC 10 also spoke to a state employee who said she and other workers are against the raises outright.

Whether the governor's Cabinet receives the raises is up to the Senate president and the speaker of the House. They will get about a month to make a decision. If they decide not to act, then the raises go into effect immediately.