To hire Gov. Bobby Jindal’s former aide, Tim Barfield, as the state’s new revenue secretary at more than double the normal pay, the Jindal administration had to create a new position in state government.
Along with the title of acting secretary, Barfield will add executive counsel to his business cards. The Jindal administration created the counsel position to circumvent limitations that would have prevented Barfield from being paid more than his predecessor.
“We wanted to bring Tim in as soon as possible,” Commissioner of Administration Paul Rainwater, the governor’s chief budget adviser, said Friday. “The Legislature’s going to have an opportunity to approve his salary. This was the quickest way to bring Tim in.”
The Jindal administration agreed to pay Barfield $250,000 a year for his combined roles, making him one of the governor’s highest-paid Cabinet secretaries.
The Revenue Department’s previous secretary, Cynthia Bridges, made $124,000 a year.
The problem with paying Barfield more than Bridges is that legislators only agreed to pay the revenue secretary $124,000 when they adopted the state’s $25.6 billion operating budget earlier this year.
One option was for the Jindal administration to hold off on hiring Barfield until the Legislature returns to the State Capitol next year. The new salary could then be included in next year’s state budget.
Rainwater said the Jindal administration did not want to wait that long.
Instead, the administration submitted paperwork with the state Department of Civil Service “activating” the position of executive counsel until the Legislature can approve Barfield’s appointment and salary.
The Revenue Department currently does not have an executive counsel.
“We’re simply using the existing authority,” Rainwater said.
Former Gov. Kathleen Blanco ran into a similar problem when she wanted to increase Cabinet secretaries’ salaries in 2004 in order to add several new hires to her administration.
Senate President John Alario, then a state representative, filed a resolution during a special session spelling out the problem.
“In the case of executive branch department officers appointed by the governor, including the secretaries of the cabinet departments, the Executive Reorganization Act generally provides that the salary of such officer shall be fixed by the governor and that such salary shall not exceed the amount approved for such position by the legislature while in session,” the resolution read.
The Legislature agreed to the resolution, raising the salaries of the secretaries of economic development and the state Department of Health and Hospitals.
Alario, R-Westwego, said Friday that he does not recall the resolution or the reasons for introducing it.
He said there is some grumbling among legislators about Barfield’s salary although it is not a groundswell of opposition.
Barfield said he plans to start work with the state in October after wrapping up his job as chief development officer for Baton Rouge-based Amedisys.
He said he did not pursue the Cabinet job despite previously serving as labor secretary and the governor’s executive counsel. “They approached me,” Barfield said.
He said the job is a unique opportunity.
Barfield is joining a Jindal administration grappling with deep financial problems. Health-care funding just was slashed by millions of dollars.
Despite the money woes, Rainwater said the state easily can find the extra dollars to pay Barfield.
“That’s one tenth of one percent of the (revenue) department’s budget,” Rainwater said.
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