Rep. Pat Hurley threw a curve to House budget writers Tuesday when she sought to cut the salaries of top state lottery officials, particularly that of Executive Director Tom Shaheen, who makes $246,000 a year.
"There are four people who make more money than our governor, and I think we should look at this," said Hurley, an Asheboro Republican, during a budget committee meeting.
Gov. Mike Easley makes $135,854 a year. Executive deputies Lou Ann Russell, Robin Diehl and Alice Garland are each paid between $142,120 and $144,120.
Hurley also found it unfair that state employees are looking at a raise that's far less than the 5 percent increase the Lottery Commission approved for staff.
House leaders sought to discourage her amendment. House Rules Chairman Bill Owens, an Elizabeth City Democrat, said if the amendment passed, Shaheen would be leaving for another state offering a much more lucrative salary.
That's when Rep. Cary Allred, a barb-tongued Alamance County Republican, joined in. He took Hurley's side.
"When I voted for the lottery, I didn't mean for the director to be the winner of the lottery," Allred said. "And if he wants to leave then don't let the screen door hit you in the behind on the way out."
In the end, committee members agreed to order a study of state salaries.