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Clark admits mistake as BC government reverses pay increase

British Columbia Premier Christy Clark is reversing the increases in the pay grid for political staff that she approved earlier this month and defended last week.

"I am rescinding those changes because leadership means listening to people," she told reporters today. "Although the original change would have meant we were under-spending the budget by $100,000, I've heard loud and clear people didn't like it. So I'm fixing it. I'm rescinding it today."

The June 3, 2013, cabinet order raised the maximum annual pay for ministerial assistants, the press secretary, the director of issues management and others from $94,500 to $105,000. The maximum pay for the chief of staff went from $195,148 to $230,000 and for the deputy chief of staff from $144,000 to $230,000.

The official orders in council from this morning's cabinet meeting were not yet available, but Clark said they reversed all of the changes, with the exeption of the pay for the deputy chief of staff, a position filled by Michele Cadario who during the election was the BC Liberal's deputy campaign director.

Cadario's position, which will pay $175,000 a year, combines the former positions of Kim Haakstad, who was the deputy chief of staff in charge of operations, and Ken Dawson, who was the director of policy.

"Overall there's a $75,000 savings in that because we're eliminating one position and she's taking on those new responsibilities," said Clark.

"I said during the election we're going to control spending, we're going to try and make government smaller if we can, and that's going to mean tightening our belts," she said. "I've always been someone who has said I'm determined to control government spending, but I've also been pretty upfront with people in saying, look, I'm going to make mistakes, and when I make them I'm going to fix them."

Clark, who lost her Vancouver-Point Grey seat in the May 14 general election, is running in a byelection in Westside-Kelowna that has been called for July 10.

Update, June 20, 2013 at 10:40 a.m.: The Orders in Council reversing the pay increase can be found here (252), here (253) and here (254).

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee's Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Find him on Twitter or reach him here.

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