Kentucky House Speaker Jeff Hoover is spending about $703,000 less on pay for full-time office personnel than did his predecessor, Greg Stumbo.
Hoover, a Jamestown lawyer who last month became Kentucky’s first Republican speaker since 1921, had 17 full-time staffers in his office on Jan. 31 at a total salary of $1,250,977, according to data obtained by the Herald-Leader under the Kentucky Open Records Act.
On the same date last year, Democrat Greg Stumbo, a Prestonsburg lawyer, had 27 full-time staffers whose total salary was $1,954,689.
Stumbo lost a bid for re-election last fall in his Eastern Kentucky district. Republicans now hold a 64-36 advantage in the House. Republicans also control the Senate, 27-11.
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Hoover’s office did not respond to several requests for comment.
Stumbo could not be reached for comment, but House Minority Floor Leader Rocky Adkins, D-Sandy Hook, said “Republicans are just getting started in running the House.”
“As they find more complexity of issues, they will have to add to staff to do all the work,” Adkins said. “We had to do that over the years to bring about the type of dialogue to serve the people of Kentucky. At the end of the day, when you look at all their expenses, such as moving legislative offices, and how they will need more people in the future, all this will balance.”
The total annual pay for the 46 staffers who work for legislative leaders in the Senate and House this year is $3.15 million, about $831,000 less than the $3.98 million spent to pay 57 full-time staffers last year.
The Senate majority office, controlled by Republicans, dropped its payload from $1.28 million last year to $1.16 million this year. It had 17 full-time staffers last year, compared to 16 this year.
The Senate minority office, controlled by Democrats, decreased pay from $429,234 in 2016 to $387,220 this year. It has gone from seven to six full-time staffers.
The only legislative office showing an increase in pay this year is the House minority, controlled by Democrats. It jumped from $320,238 last year, when Republicans were in the minority, to $352,003 this year under Democratic control. The office went from six employees last year to seven this year.
The average pay for full-time staffers in the GOP’s House majority office increased slightly over last year, rising from $72,396 to $73,587, or $1,191.
The top salary-getter in that office and among all legislative staffers is Laura Hendrix, the general counsel for Hoover. She makes $136,344. Hendrix previously had worked about two decades for the Legislative Research Commission, including 11 years as its general counsel.
The highest-paid staffers in Stumbo’s office last year were Scott T. Jones and David Barber. Each was paid $109,200.
For many Republican staffers, going from the minority party to the majority party in the House was a financial boon. Meanwhile, many Democrats saw their pay dip.
For example, House Republican Communications Director Daisy Olivo got paid $52,494 last year, when Hoover was the minority floor leader. This year, her annual pay is $62,500.
Amy Carman, who worked in communications last year for the House majority Democrats, got paid $70,000. Working this year for the House minority Democrats, her salary is $52,000.
Jones, who now works for Democrats in the minority, saw his salary drop from $109,200 last year to $80,000 this year.