Randy Gardner joins DeWine cabinet, gets huge raise

Swapping his seat in the Ohio Senate to accept the Chancellor of Higher Education cabinet post in Gov. Mike DeWine’s state government was a very good fit for Randy Gardner of Bowling Green. It has also a financial bonanza, with Gardner’s salary more than doubling, according to information released on Friday in Columbus.

Gardner will see his pay jump from the $87,600 he made as a senator in 2018 to $190,008 to serve as Chancellor of Higher Education. And it could and should get even better.

Gardner has been a member of either the Ohio Senate or the Ohio House for 33 years, assuring a senator’s maximum pension. As a member of the governor’s cabinet, Gardner’s pension would be predicated on his top three years of state earnings, which will now be considerably higher.

Gardner’s Senate District 2 included Ottawa, Erie and Wood counties, as well as portions of Fulton and Lucas counties. A respected legislator, after winning the November election Gardner was selected as Senate Majority Leader by an impressive 28-0 vote on Jan. 7. On Jan. 9 he accepted DeWine’s offer of the cabinet post that more than doubled his salary.

Gardner will be Ohio’s highest paid cabinet official, topping DeWine’s annual salary of $154,248. Lt. Gov Jon Husted, who will also be in charge of InnovateOhio, a new state agency overseeing a variety of departments, will make $176,426.

Gardner will be paid more than both, and so will Director Stephanie McCloud ($184,955) of the Bureau of Workman’s Compensation and Kim Murnieks ($177,008), nominated as budget director.

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