TALLAHASSEE — To help shrink state government, the new leaders of the Legislature have brought in a stable of advisors at six-figure salaries.
In the House, incoming Speaker Dean Cannon has given salaries of at least $100,000 to 28 staffers. In the Senate, 33 will earn six figures under incoming President Mike Haridopolos.
Both leaders say the pay is justified for their skilled workers, yet the numbers stand out in a state where average wages are stagnating, 1 million Floridians can't find work and Republican Gov.-elect Rick Scott wants to eliminate up to 6,000 state jobs.
Haridopolos and Cannon, who must fill a projected $3 billion budget hole, said costs were trimmed elsewhere in the Legislature's budget. Haridopolos, for example, has consolidated numerous jobs with a stated goal of cutting $1 million from the Senate's $35.5 million budget.
``We've got to lead by example,'' said Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island.
The payroll in the Senate president's administrative office exceeds $1.1 million -- about 25 percent more than the wages in the speaker's office across the hall in the Capitol. Haridopolos' chief of staff and general counsel, Stephen MacNamara, is the highest-paid legislative staffer and earns $175,008.
Still, Haridopolos has trimmed his own administrative office payroll by 12 percent in a year when state employees have endured the fifth consecutive year without a cost-of-living increase.
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