Some odds and ends from the state government transition — the treasurer’s payroll, the pay of a new information systems chief and changes at Career Education.
First, I received the full payroll of state Treasurer Dennis Milligan’s office. You can see it at the PDF linked below.
Top pay goes to his chief of staff, Jim Harris, at $99,000 and to his chief deputy information officer Gary Underwood at $93,807.
Wednesday, the state Board of Finance voted to loosen job requirements for the top four positions in the treasurer’s office because Harris would not have met the requirement for a college degree in a field directly related to the treasurer’s office, such as accounting.finance or a business-related field. Those requirements were imposed by a Republican-sponsored bill in 2013 after the bribery scandal involving Treasurer Martha Shoffner.
The rule now says a college degree is required and a business major is preferred. In announcing his staff, Milligan explained how he believed the backgrounds of Harris qualified him for the positions. Harris is a former newspaperman who worked for his brother-in-law Gov. Mike Huckabee in communications. He also worked with Milligan in his time as Saline circuit clerk. Underwood has a Huckabee connection, too. His work in communication began in video productions at the Texarkana Baptist church that Huckabee once pastored. He’s gone on to a career in communications that included a position in the Department of Information Systems.
Two other top Milligan employees, both holdovers from the previous administration, do have degrees in business fields — chief financial officer Melissa Corrigan and chief investment officer Autumn Sanson.
* DEPARTMENT OF INFORMATION SYSTEMS: Mark Myers, a long-time Republican political activist who’s been working for the secretary of state, will be paid $136,000 to be director of the Department of Information Systems. Herschel Cleveland, the former Democratic legislator who’s been serving as interim director since Claire Bailey’s departure, remains employed at the agency.
* CAREER EDUCATION: A tipster told me something I’d missed. When Bill Walker departed as director of the Department of Career Education after learning in early December that Gov. Asa Hutchinson didn’t plan to retain him, Robert Trevino became acting director of the agency. Trevino has had a checkered past at the agency, readers may remember. Though my tipster was correct about that, a department spokesman said Trevino had NOT moved into the expansive office Walker created for himself after moving into a Capitol Avenue building owned by a company controlled by a friend and political ally, Richard Mays. Hutchinson’s appointee to lead the agency, Dr. Charisse Childers, takes office next week.