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Va. gov-elect McDonnell will cut Cabinet salaries

By Dena Potter
Associated Press Writer / January 5, 2010

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RICHMOND, Va.—Virginia Gov.-elect Bob McDonnell said Tuesday he will temporarily cut the salaries of his Cabinet members by about 5 percent to save the state money in tough economic times.

McDonnell already had said he would cut his own $175,000-a-year salary. A 5 percent pay cut would mean $8,750 a year.

The governor's Cabinet is made up of 15 high-level staff members and secretaries, who each earn about $153,000 a year and oversee various state agencies. McDonnell said the cuts, which would equal about $7,650 annually, would last at least six months after he and the Cabinet members take office on Jan. 16.

"In these tough budget times everybody's got to contribute, and I intend to do our part," McDonnell said.

McDonnell said he would look for savings in the form of salary cuts and staff reductions in the governor's office and will ask each of the Cabinet members to do the same.

Commerce Secretary-designate Robert Sledd already has offered to give up his state pay if McDonnell allowed him to remain on the boards of three large corporations, including two in Virginia. McDonnell said again Tuesday that the move presents no conflict of interest and would be a good thing for Virginia.

McDonnell follows the lead of at least the last two governors. Gov. Timothy M. Kaine and former Gov. Mark Warner cut their salaries by 5 percent and 20 percent, respectively.

From November 2007 through June 2008, Cabinet secretaries under Kaine voluntarily returned 4 percent of their annual salary, giving about $6,000 each to the state's general fund, which funds core services like education and health care.

Since 2008, Kaine has cut $7 billion from the state's budget and last month introduced a spending plan that used cuts and an income tax increase to reconcile another $3.6 billion state revenue shortfall through 2012.

Even before he takes office, McDonnell already has some experience cutting budgets.

In his final year as attorney general, McDonnell cut his office budget by more than 9 percent, including returning his state car and taking a 10 percent pay cut to his $150,000 salary.