Why some Iowa officials to have higher salary than governor

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DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Three aides to Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds and six newly appointed agency directors earn more than the governor, in a decision a spokesman said reflects the need to attract top talent.

Iowa law sets the governor’s salary at $130,000 and some of Reynolds’ top appointees will be paid more, The Des Moines Register reported.

One of the top earners is Debi Durham, the director of the state’s economic development and housing agencies. A $50,000 retention bonus brings her annual salary to about $204,000.

The state sets a maximum limit for directors’ salaries at $154,300, but administrative rules let some employees be paid a retention bonus if they commit to serving for a certain amount of time.

“The salaries paid to governor’s staff and department directors are what it takes to recruit and retain top talent,” said Pat Garrett, a spokesman for Reynolds.

Durham said she took the job because she believes “in the mission,” not because of the pay.

“I didn’t do it obviously for the salary, because I could do a lot more in the private sector,” she said.

Other top earners in the governor’s office include Sam Langholz, chief counsel; Paul Trombino III, the chief operations officer; and Sara Gongol, the governor’s chief of staff. They’ll be paid between $134,000 and $157,000.

David Roederer, Reynolds’ budget director, said it’s not unusual for staffers to make more money than the governor.

“From my perspective, it’s not that the others are so much higher — it’s the fact that the governor’s salary is what it is,” Roederer said. “But they know what those salaries are when they run for office.”

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