Texas Pension Chiefs Listed Among Top-Paid State Managers

Aug. 24 (Bloomberg) -- The heads of Texas’s pension funds rank No. 1 and No. 4 on a list of the best-paid state agency leaders, ahead of managers who run much larger health and education operations, according to a state auditor’s report.

Yet top investment officials at the $110.3 billion Teacher Retirement System make more than their boss, Brian Guthrie, whose $270,000 salary put him fourth among the top 30 agency leaders, Auditor John Keel said today in a report. The ranking didn’t include the best-paid managers of state funds.

The pension’s chief investment officer got an annual salary of $480,000, while the investment-fund director was paid $330,000, the report shows. In all, it says the salaries of four investment-related employees exceeded Guthrie’s.

At the state’s Health and Human Services Commission, with a $31.8 billion budget and 57,000 full-time employees, Executive Commissioner Tom Suehs got a salary of $230,000, ranking ninth on Keel’s list. Phil Wilson, a former Luminant Worldwide Corp. executive put in charge the Texas Transportation Department in September, was paid $292,500, the second-highest amount among agency managers, excluding those in investment positions.

Ann Bishop, head of the $22.1 billion Employees Retirement System, receives $312,000 in salary, making her the best-paid head of a state agency, according to the report. Paul Ballard, chief executive officer of the Treasury Safekeeping Trust Co., an arm of the comptrollers office that oversees almost $50 billion in assets, came in at No. 3 with a salary of $292,000.

Nine Others

Bishop, who also received a $26,000 bonus in fiscal 2011, oversees nine more employees whose pay topped the lowest-salaried manager, the Lottery Commission’s executive director, at about $185,300 on Keel’s top-30 list. By comparison, Texas Governor Rick Perry collects a $150,000 annual salary.

Mary Jane Wardlow, a spokeswoman for the pension, declined to comment on the auditor’s report.

The objective of the study was to “bring about comparable pay among similar executive-officer positions” in state government, Keel said in the report. The second-biggest U.S. state by population has “significant disparities” in what it pays top managers, he said.

“We usually let these reports speak for themselves,” said Cody Smith, a spokesman, when asked if Keel would comment on the study. The Legislature asked for the audit, which identified salaries by job title without naming the individuals holding the positions. Keel ranked 21st, with annual pay of $198,000.

To contact the reporter on this story: Kathy Warbelow in Austin at kwarbelow@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Stephen Merelman at smerelman@bloomberg.net.