BATON ROUGE, La. — The head of the Louisiana State Police has quietly received a 32 percent pay hike that raised his annual salary by more than $43,000.

Col. Mike Edmonson’s pay was boosted to $177,436 last month. Salary hikes also were given to at least four of Edmonson’s top deputies and to the state fire marshal, whose office is under Edmonson’s Department of Public Safety.

The Advocate reports (http://bit.ly/2csvoqh ) civil service data shows most of the raises began Aug. 1.

Fire Marshal Butch Browning is now making $137,500, a 32 percent increase from his previous salary of $103,950.

The pay hikes come amid continuing state budget problems and cuts that hit several agencies in the financial year that began July 1.

Edmonson said the salary bumps make state police pay competitive with other law enforcement agencies across the state. Maj. Doug Cain, state police spokesman, said some Louisiana sheriffs and high-ranking National Guard officials had higher salaries than Edmonson, and he said the state police leader was making less than some of his majors.

Browning also described his increase as needed so his subordinates no longer receive higher pay than he does. The fire marshal said his raise came from a dedicated tax and had to do with his re-appointment to his job by Edwards, though the governor never announced Browning’s pay would rise at the time of the appointment.

Last year at Edmonson’s urging, state troopers got two back-to-back raises in six months that, when combined, increased a trooper’s pay by 30 percent on average. The pay boosts were supported by lawmakers and then-Gov. Bobby Jindal.

Edmonson said one of the budget line items that paid for the raises was meant to include the state police superintendent and his top deputies, not just rank-and-file troopers.

“The legislators know what it’s for. They voted on it and passed it,” Cain said.

Gov. John Bel Edwards’s chief of staff, Ben Nevers, signed off on Edmonson’s raise and the governor knew of the increase, according to Edwards spokesman Richard Carbo.

“I’m extremely excited and pleased that the governor has adjusted my salary,” Edmonson said. “I will continue to work extremely hard to protect the greatest assets in Louisiana, our citizens.”

Edmonson approved pay hikes for his deputy superintendents. According to civil service data:

—Charles Dupuy, who oversees day-to-day state police operations, is now getting paid $161,305 annually, up from $140,890.

—Jason Starnes, who was newly installed as a deputy superintendent and serves as a chief administrative officer, is being paid $150,752, up from $128,934.

—Glenn Staton and Murphy Paul each saw their salaries rise from $140,890 to $150,752.


Information from: The Advocate, http://theadvocate.com