4 members of Gov. Evers' Cabinet make $1 less than he does

Gov. Tony Evers pays several of his Cabinet secretaries the maximum allowed by law -- a dollar short of his own pay.

FOX6 News looks at the records to show what you're paying Wisconsin's top officials.

Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes makes $80,000 per year. Gov. Evers makes $152,000 per year; four members of his Cabinet make one dollar less than that, thus following Wisconsin law.

"It is a little alarming that some of them do make that much," said State Sen. Dan Feyen (R-Fond du Lac). 

Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes

The latest numbers come from an open records request by the conservative group Empower Wisconsin. It showed those four secretaries are paid $73.44 per hour: Joel Brennan of the Department of Administration; Preston Cole of the Department of Natural Resources; Kevin Carr of the Department of Corrections; and Andrea Palm formerly of the Department of Health Services, who recently left to work in the Biden administration's Department of Health and Human Services.

"There are a lot of concerns from taxpayers that these are people making a lot more money than they would have under Gov. Scott Walker, for example, and you have all kinds of questions about how they have led their respective agencies," said Matt Kittle with Empower Wisconsin.

Joel Brennan of the Department of Administration; Preston Cole of the Department of Natural Resources; Kevin Carr of the Department of Corrections; and the Andrea Palm, formerly of the Department of Health Services

Some took a pay cut to join the governor's Cabinet.

Brennan used to lead Discovery World, where 2018 tax documents show he made more than $223,000 a year. That amounts to a roughly $70,000 pay cut to work for Gov. Evers' administration.

Compare the Cabinet salaries to some leaders' salaries in the non-profit sector, like the Ronald McDonald House Charities Eastern Wisconsin. Their 2019 tax records show the CEO was paid $159,000.

Gov. Tony Evers

The governor's spokeswoman, Britt Cudaback, tells FOX6: "Gov. Evers values and respects public service and our administration has dedicated, talented professionals leading our state agencies who bring vast experience and expertise to serving the people of our state."

Democrats point out that the Republican-controlled state Senate has stalled on confirming the governor's Cabinet, with seven members unconfirmed. Palm would be eight, which is why she was DHS secretary-designee for two years and not secretary.

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"The bottom-line question: Are they worth what they’re making? And that’s up to the taxpayers," Kittle said.

And the question is up to the governor those taxpayers elected; he is limited, however, to the statutory limit: their pay must be below his.

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