- Associated Press - Monday, December 8, 2014

PHOENIX (AP) - Arizona state officials gave pay raises to 169 government workers without getting the required approval from the Department of Administration.

Information released to the Arizona Republic under a public records request doesn’t include dollar amounts for the raises granted during the past 12 months but indicates that some topped 20 percent of the workers’ salaries, the newspaper (https://goo.gl/pHACDc ) reported.

Agencies are required to get approval for pay raises under changes to the state personnel system enacted in 2012 at behest of Gov. Jan Brewer.

Officials have no plans to rescind the improper raises, but Brewer spokesman Andrew Wilder said the agencies involved have been contacted and that those needing additional training are getting it.

Attorney General Tom Horne’s office blamed a misunderstanding for its unauthorized raises for 59 workers.

“Our office was not clear about the new requirements that DOA had mandated, but that has since been clarified and now all pay raises are submitted to them for approval,” said Horne spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham.

Grisham said the raises were justified, funded and within the salary ranges for the employees’ positions.

The Department of Education said it didn’t need authorization for raises it awarded to 47 workers. Superintendent of Public Instruction John Huppenthal, like Horne, is an elected official.

“As a department led by an elected official, it was felt that the superintendent should have the ability to determine the appropriate salary for staff within the budgetary limitation of the agency, not the Department of Administration,” the Education Department said in a statement.

Other agencies with double-digit numbers of employees getting unauthorized raises included the Arizona Corporation Commission, with 37, and the state Geological Survey, with 14.

Department of Administration Deputy Director Jeff Grant said agencies are required to submit a written request outlining the basis for the proposed salary increase. The department then determines if the raise is appropriate.

Nearly all agencies follow the rules, Grant said. “Ninety-five percent of those employees who received a base-pay increase obtained the required approval,” he said.

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