That didn’t take long.
On Friday, the president of the University of Missouri System, Mun Choi, ended incentive payments to more than a dozen top officials at the system’s schools. The decision came just a few days after Missouri Auditor Nicole Galloway found $1.2 million in apparently improper payments to school administrators over a three-year period.
The payments were made without a clearly defined process, Galloway said, making them look like unconstitutional bonus payments. She also found $800,000 over two years in housing, retention and relocation payments to administrators.
The spending angered taxpayers and politicians alike. Choi’s decision on the incentives is commendable, but there is more work to do.
More than $400,000 was spent on car allowances over a two-year period, money that also went to top administrators. The payments, Galloway said, “appear excessive.”
Nope, the system said. Car allowances are “market driven.”
R. Bowen Loftin quit under fire as the Columbia campus chancellor in November 2015 but continued to receive the chancellor’s salary for six months. When that ran out, the university found a job for Loftin as director of national security research development — at 75 percent of the chancellor’s pay, “significantly higher than other research administrators,” the audit found.
He also got a travel allowance, a car allowance and a stipend, with “no clear objectives or deliverables required during this time.”
In any circumstance, all of these payments seem questionable. During a time of budget cuts and plans for tuition hikes, they’re ridiculous.
But there’s more.
Last week, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that Robert Ziehmer, the former director of the Missouri Department of Conservation, is still collecting a state paycheck more than seven months after leaving the post. He has already picked up $87,000.
The payments appear to be part of a contract settlement agreement between Ziehmer and the Missouri Conservation Commission and may include unused sick leave.
Taken as a whole, these arrangements reflect a disregard for the appearance of favoritism and sweetheart deals with high-ranking state employees. State lawmakers who opposed minimum wage increases last week should spend a little time reining in luxury car allowances for college administrators, or yearlong separation agreements with top employees.
The voice of state taxpayers should be clear.
Let’s have no more of that.