The chairman of the Tennessee Republican Party Tuesday criticized "excessive salaries" paid by the Tennessee Lottery Corp., money she said should go to education when the lottery starts next year.
"We are receiving a lot of feedback from Tennesseans across the state that are deeply disturbed by these huge salaries being given out before the first lottery ticket is sold," GOP Chairman Beth Harwell said in an E-mail message to Tennessee Republicans Tuesday.
"I am also concerned with the 'unspecified bonuses' being doled out. I think most Tennesseans will agree the lottery should be for education, not to enrich bureaucrats," Harwell said. Her message was titled "State lottery is becoming monster we feared."
Harwell cited the salary being paid to lottery chief executive officer Rebecca Paul, whose base pay of $350,000 could be eclipsed by performance bonuses of up to $402,500, giving her a potential first-year salary of more than $750,000. Harwell also mentioned executive vice president and general counsel Wanda Wilson and chief administrative officer Steve Adams, both with base salaries of $180,000.
Wilson and Adams will also be eligible for incentive bonuses whose parameters have not been determined. Paul was paid $500,000 as CEO of the Georgia Lottery and Adams, who resigns Friday as state treasurer, is receiving a $49,000 raise in base pay, excluding bonuses.
Harwell's remarks came four days after Gov. Phil Bredesen, a Democrat, bristled over lottery salaries. "I honestly think . . . we've got enough high-salaried people and I'm anxious to get on to the business of building this lottery," he said Friday.
The statute creating the lottery approved by the state legislature in May gives the seven-member lottery board broad authority to operate outside the personnel and compensation confines of state government, to get the lottery up and going quickly.
Lottery Corp. spokesman Will Pinkston defended the pay ranges Tuesday. "Generally speaking, I think Rebecca and the board are firm believers that the lottery needs to be able to compete to hire the best and brightest talent as we start up this billion-dollar enterprise and that means paying wages that are competitive with the private sector.
"The lottery views competitive compensation as an investment in its business and as we hire the best talent, we feel confident it will result in more sales, more profits and more dollars for education - not fewer dollars for education," said Pinkston, whose salary jumped from $66,000 to $95,000 when he moved from Bredesen's office to the lottery.