Bryant earns 'acting governor' pay

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant has received an extra $50,000 over the past three for serving as “acting governor’ during Gov. Haley Barbour’s absences.

The Clarion-Ledger reports Bryant, by law, gets an extra $7.50 an hour to fill in for the governor. Bryant’s annual salary is $60,000.

Bryant says he asked the Mississippi Department of Finance and Administration in January about the potential of cutting the pay in half.

In January alone, Bryant earned $8,515 in “acting governor pay,” MDFA records show, as Barbour was traveling into early primary and caucus states considering a run for president that he recently decided against.

Since Barbour took office in 2004, DFA records show $108,747 has been paid in acting governor pay.

Barbour spent half of 2010 traveling outside of Mississippi, but he is “doing his job” and always reachable even when he’s gone, dies have said.

MDFA spokeswoman Kym Wiggins said the agency received Bryant’s request, but “the law provides the lieutenant governor ‘shall’ receive this payment. Therefore DFA could not accommodate the lieutenant governor’s request.”

A change to the Mississippi Constitution requires voter approval.

Since Barbour took office in 2004, $108,747 has been paid in acting governor pay, a little over $15,000 a year.

When both Barbour and Bryant are absence, Senate President Pro Tem Billy Hewes earned $11.09 an hour as acting governor , or House Speaker Billy McCoy makes $5.95 an hour. In 2010, Hewes earned $4,895 in acting governor pay and McCoy $103, according to MDFA.

The amount paid is the difference between the salary of the individual filling in and the governor’s salary, which is $122,160.

Bryant’s aides say he plans to donate the governor’s pay to charity.

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Information from: The Clarion-Ledger, http://www.clarionledger.com

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.

The Associated Press