Maryland

Maryland Governor's Aide, Agency Defend Severance Payout

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The new chief of staff for Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and an independent state environmental agency are defending a $234,000 payout he received as he left his previous post.

Roy McGrath, who became Hogan’s chief of staff June 1, wrote in a Facebook post that the severance approved by the board of the Maryland Environmental Service in late May is “a standard business practice.”

An MES statement released on Saturday described the payment “as a well-earned compensation package” for McGrath “having led the organization to its best financial and operational year in our history,” The Baltimore Sun reported. McGrath had led the agency since 2016.

The agency, which completes environmental and public works projects, said such payments fit “a private sector-like pay structure.”

Word of the severance, first reported by the newspaper, led state lawmakers on Friday to call for hearings.

Senate President Bill Ferguson and House Speaker Adrienne Jones said in a statement McGrath’s payout was “truly shocking.” Jones said McGrath should return the money.

The MES board agreed to a severance package of one year’s salary for McGrath -- identified in budget records at $233,647 -- and $5,250 in tuition reimbursements. He's making about the same salary in his new job in the Republican governor's administration.

MES doesn't receive subsidies from general state tax dollars. It generate its own revenues, which mainly come from local and county governments, the newspaper reported.

McGrath said in the Facebook post that his predecessor received “an exit package far larger than mine.” The MES statement said former agency leader Jim Harkins received $256,746 when he retired in 2016.

The statement praised McGrath for an employee incentive program and the creation of a diversity and inclusion program.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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