Want to get rich working for the state?
Better learn how to teach really tall college students what to do with a basketball.
Not good at sports?
Learn brain surgery. Or run the whole hospital.
A Courier Journal analysis of Kentucky’s $7.3 billion annual payroll shows the best-paid public employees are university coaches and top-flight doctors who teach in the state’s medical schools. University presidents and some top-flight administrators round out the financial leader board.
Politicians? Not so much.
Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin’s annual salary is $145,992. About 1,720 other Kentucky state workers make more. But thanks to CJ Data, which includes limited Indiana salary information, he can take solace knowing that he makes $25,000 more than Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb.
Do all those public employees earn their checks? That’s not the point.
What matters is that your tax dollars pay their salaries, and the public has a right to inspect each and every one of them.
Using the Courier Journal’s new CJ Data site, citizens can search public salaries and other government data to better examine how their tax dollars get spent.
To start, we’re publishing:
Kentucky public salaries
Indiana public salaries
Louisville Metro Government salaries
Appointees of Gov. Matt Bevin
Kentucky spending data for 2017 and 2018 fiscal years
Kentucky Department of Education 2017 school scores
We obtained the data through both the Open Records Act and by using computer programs that automatically comb through Kentucky and Indiana government websites, compiling salary information and storing it in databases. Some salaries may be outdated, depending on how often public employers report their data to the state.
For example, Kentucky’s transparency website, which posts state salary data, still lists former University of Louisville head coach Rick Pitino as the highest-paid employee in the commonwealth, even though the university fired him in October 2017. That’s because the school adopted a policy that stopped disclosure of employee pay for nearly a year.
More: What is Gov. Matt Bevin doing with Kentucky’s education boards?
See also: Accused Russian spy Maria Butina spoke at Louisville NRA-week dinner
When the Courier Journal requested its salary data under the Open Records Act, university records custodian Sherri Pawson argued releasing the records would jeopardize its employees’ personal information, making them susceptible to forms of financial fraud, and blamed local media outlets for aiding “unscrupulous” attempts to steal identities by publishing public salaries.
To lawfully deny a records request, government agencies must cite a legal statute as a basis for non-disclosure. The university cited none, and eventually provided the updated records after the Courier Journal objected. That information can now be searched in our database.
Search now: Kentucky state public salaries database
Search now: Indiana state public salaries database
Louisville’s new men’s basketball coach, Chris Mack, became the highest-paid employee of the commonwealth when he accepted the job in March, signing a seven-year contract that will pay him $4 million annually.
Public salaries of university employees in Indiana are not included in CJ Data, but we will make them available once we have them.
Two of the highest compensated among Kentucky’s workers, excluding public higher education employees, are Terrance R. Gill and Vivek K. Sarin, both appointees of the governor to the Economic Development Cabinet tasked to bring more business investment to the commonwealth. Each makes $250,000 annually.
Of course, not everyone is getting rich on state pay.
In Kentucky’s prisons, correctional officers average $32,696 each year. County Attorneys each make $74,464, and highway technicians earn $39,275 annually.
The CJ Data will grow as we add more to it. If you have an idea for what to include, email our tip line at firstname.lastname@example.org.