New Jersey Transit has given a huge pay raise to a former Murphy for Governor campaign consultant hired just 17 months ago.
Justin Davis, a longtime aide to a state senator, was hired as the $156,000-a-year chief of staff at the embattled transit agency.
His new salary is $188,000. His raise is the equivalent of 2,723 train tickets between Madison and New York City.
The agency also raised the salaries of seven other top executives, including William Viquerira, who had served as comptroller of the Democratic State Committee Victory 2017 committee and as treasurer of Gov. Phil Murphy’s inaugural committee.
Viqueira got a 19% increase — from $180,000 to $215,000 — and is now the Senior Vice President and CFO.
New Jersey rail commuters have faced huge delays for the last few days as the system faces infrastructure and staffing issues. Murphy has said there have been some improvements over the last few months but admitted that there is considerable progress still needed to fix the agency’s operational issues.
In addition to a 21% pay hike, Davis also has a new title: Senior Vice President for Regulatory and Government Affairs and Chief of Staff.
The increase puts Davis’ salary way above two of his predecessors under Gov. Chris Christie, who faced substantial criticism for political hires at New Jersey Transit.
Davis earned $56,000-a-year working in the Senate office of former Gov. Richard Codey for more than a dozen years, according to New Jersey payroll records.
“New Jersey could not have a better public servant,” said Codey, noting he refused to join the Norcross-Christie-Joe D cabal. “He’s just what New Jersey needs, and he’ll never be part of any cabal.”
Kevin Corbett, who was hired by Murphy as executive director and now has the title of President and CEO, did not receive a raise.
“New Jersey Transit implemented an executive reorganization to better align the agency’s organizational structure with its newly adopted strategic vision,” said spokesperson Nancy Snyder. “The new structure, which reduced the total number of senior staff positions and saves money, is similar to peer agencies throughout the region.”
Snyder said that all raises were funded by the elimination of other positions.
“Salaries that have been adjusted for direct reports to the President and CEO are commensurate with their enhanced responsibilities as part of the reorganization,” Snyder told the New Jersey Globe.
The restructuring and raises came at the recommendation of The North Highland Company, which was hired to perform a top-to-bottom audit of the agency at Murphy’s direction
A top executive, Senior Vice President for Surface Transportation and Bus Operations Michael Kilcoyne, saw his salary jump from $180,000 to $225,000. He has worked at New Jersey Transit since 1998.
The new Senior Vice President and General Manager for Rail Operation, Raymond Kenny, was hired in January 2019 at $225,000-per-year after working for the Long Island Railroad. His salary was not increased.
Davis lost a race for Morristown councilman by just 8 votes in 2015. The following year, he went to work as a consultant for Murphy’s gubernatorial campaign, according to his LinkedIn page. He returned briefly to the Senate staff between the campaign and his hiring at New Jersey Transit.
This story was updated at 6:32 PM.