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Bryant trims staff salaries

Published 10:46pm Sunday, January 22, 2012

JACKSON (AP) — Gov. Phil Bryant is saving taxpayers at least $200,000 by cutting spending in his office.

According to documents obtained by The Clarion-Ledger through an open records request, the amount Bryant will spend on salaries in his office is 10 percent less than former Gov. Haley Barbour. Bryant achieved that through a reduction in posts as well as salary cuts.

“Gov. Bryant takes seriously his duty to be a good steward of our taxpayers’ dollars,” spokesman Mick Bullock said.

Bullock said Bryant worked to “significantly reduce the traditional salaries of his senior staff.”

In Barbour’s administration, five aides made $95,000 or more. The records show two staffers fall into that category in Bryant’s office — Bryant’s chief of staff, Kirk Sims, and Lucien Smith, deputy chief of staff and policy director. Each will make $110,000 a year.

Sims served as policy director for Bryant in the lieutenant governor’s office and helped run his campaign for governor. He is the son-in-law of U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker and an alumnus of the University of Mississippi.

A former budget adviser and legal counsel for Barbour’s administration, Smith ran for state treasurer last year but lost in the three-person GOP primary. The Harvard and University of Virginia Law graduate had been working in the private sector during his campaign and up to his appointment to Bryant’s administration.

Bullock — the next highest on the salary chart — will make $82,500 a year.

Bullock, who has degrees from the University of Southern Mississippi and Belhaven University, has been working for Bryant for eight years, starting in the auditor’s office. He was Bryant’s spokesman in the lieutenant governor’s office, as well.

All other staffers will make between $40,000 and $80,000.

The governor is paid $122,160 a year, under state law.

Bullock said Bryant’s team decided that no one in his office would make more than the governor.

Democratic Caucus leader Rep. Bobby Moak, of Bogue Chitto, said he applauds Bryant’s efforts to cut back.

“I think he’s on the right road,” he said.

In addition to salaries, Bullock said Bryant is carrying out other cuts, making the governor’s office budget 7 percent less than the previous administration. Those other efforts will be outlined in Bryant’s executive budget recommendation, which is slated to be released Jan. 31