State Politics

Here’s how much Gov. Roy Cooper’s Cabinet and top aides will earn

Two key leaders in Gov. Roy Cooper’s administration will earn substantially higher salaries than their predecessors, according to salary records released this week.

Transportation Secretary Jim Trogdon will make $195,352 annually – well above the $138,040 salary that Gov. Pat McCrory’s transportation secretary, Nick Tennyson, made. Budget Director Charlie Perusse also will make $195,352, while his predecessor, Drew Heath, had a salary of $145,000.

Trogdon and Perusse are the highest paid of Cooper’s appointees, earning well above the governor’s $144,349 salary. Their salaries were not disclosed when they were initially hired.

During a Senate committee meeting Wednesday, Republican Sen. Wesley Meredith took issue with the transparency of the Democratic governor’s Cabinet appointments. He said that “as of today, Gov. Cooper hasn’t even said how much the taxpayers are paying his nominees.”

Salaries for many of the Cabinet officials have been publicly listed on The News & Observer’s online state employee salary database for at least a week. Cooper spokeswoman Noelle Talley confirmed that the salary records are accurate.

Cooper issued a statement praising his hires Wednesday. “I’m proud to have brought together this talented, experienced and hard-working team to help me move North Carolina forward,” he said.

Talley said that the Cabinet secretaries average 24 years of experience and make up the most diverse cabinet in North Carolina’s history. Senior staff members in the governor’s office, she said, average 22 years of experience.

Trogdon has 25 years experience in transportation – including senior positions at the N.C. Department of Transportation and the General Assembly – and he was also a major general in the state National Guard. Perusse was budget director under Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue and had recently served as chief operating officer for the UNC system.

Most of the other salaries are similar to what the same positions earned during Republican Gov. McCrory’s administration. Here’s the list of Cabinet secretary salaries as well as salaries for Cooper’s aides who make more than $100,000 annually:

Larry Hall, secretary of military and veterans affairs: $130,935 (salary is identical to Hall’s predecessor, Cornell Wilson)

Tony Copeland, secretary of commerce: $138,040 (salary is identical to Copeland’s predecessor, John Skvarla)

Machelle Sanders, secretary of administration: $130,935 (salary is identical to Sanders’ predecessor, Kathryn Johnson)

Mandy Cohen, secretary of health and human services: $142,100 (salary is identical to Cohen’s predecessor, Rick Brajer)

Jim Trogdon, secretary of transportation: $195,352 (Trogdon’s predecessor, Nick Tennyson, made $138,040)

Susi Hamilton, secretary of natural and cultural resources: $138,040 (salary is identical to Hamilton’s predecessor, Susan Kluttz)

Erik Hooks, secretary of public safety: $138,040 (salary is identical to Hooks’ predecessor, Frank Perry)

Michael Regan, secretary of environmental quality: $130,935 (salary is identical to Regan’s predecessor, Donald van der Vaart)

Charlie Perusse, budget director: $195,352 (Perusse’s predecessor, Drew Heath, made $145,000)

Barbara Gibson, human resources director: $142,100 (salary is identical to Gibson’s predecessor, Neal Alexander)

Kristi Jones, chief of staff: $151,000 (Jones’ predecessor, Thomas Stith, made $154,280)

Sadie Weiner, communications director: $125,000 (Weiner’s predecessor, Josh Ellis, made $107,590)

Bradley Adcock, legislative director: $128,905 (Adcock’s predecessor, Fred Steen, made $126,000)

Stephen Bryant, deputy chief of staff: $141,796 (McCrory’s deputy chiefs of staff made $130,935 and $131,950)

Julia White, deputy chief of staff: $141,796

William McKinney, legal counsel: $130,000 (McKinney’s predecessor, Bob Stephens, made $142,100)

Gregory McLeod, deputy legal counsel: $128,905 (McLeod’s predecessor, Jonathan Harris, made $81,200)

Jennifer Owen, senior policy associate: $125,000 (Owen’s predecessor, Matt McKillip, made $89,828)

Database editor David Raynor contributed to this report

Colin Campbell: 919-829-4698, @RaleighReporter