Earth to Ted: That's too much

Maybe Oregon would have lost top government managers because their pay wasn't as much as that of government managers elsewhere.

We'll never know now.

This week the governor, pointing out that Oregon government managers' salaries were 10 percent lower than salaries for similar positions elsewhere, granted them raises of between 11 and 24 percent over two years.

With the state's economy and budget in better shape than they have been, a spokesman said, "It's a good time to do it."

It's also, we think, a very good example of why people think government wastes money: If it's got it, it tends to spend it.

And it's no small amount in this case. Oregon has 60 department heads who will claim between 21 percent and 24 percent more and 4,800 managers (yes, it has nearly 5,000 managers, but that's a topic for another day) who will pick up raises of between 11 percent and 16 percent.

The raises will cost the state $12 million more than the $125 million already budgeted over the coming two years for base raises and health-care costs.

Kulongoski's public rationale for the move was that the state would lose managers if they didn't get more money.

But he provided no documentation that such a loss had happened or was imminent. And he didn't explain why managers' apparent 10 percent shortage meant they should get raises of much more.

He didn't make provisions for union employees, who didn't get as much and who now are asking how that works out as fair.

No one in Kulongoski's position should have to be reminded of the importance of keeping the public's trust. No Oregon governor should need a wake-up call that money is a big deal to Oregonians. No one trusted with the public's money should spend it without first stopping and asking whether that's really necessary.

Many thoughtful decisions have come from Kulongoski's office in his two terms as governor, including some that have cost taxpayers more money.

We wouldn't put this one anywhere on that list.

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