State Headliners: Green Mountain Care Board lawyer leads list of state employee merit bonus winners

By Guy Page

Since 1995, a little-known program operated by the state of Vermont “to inspire excellence in performance” has provided merit bonus pay to selected employees.  A Green Mountain Care Board lawyer received the largest bonus during a 19-month period from January 2017 to August 2018.

Judith Henkin, GMCB General Counsel, received $9,523.07 on Sept. 30, 2017. Ms. Henkin was in the news this July for arguing the GMCB position to not allow Vermont Health Care Advocate Michael Fisher to testify as an expert witness in a proposed Blue Cross-Blue Shield rate hike. Last December she sent Copley Hospital a letter criticizing them for earning too much revenue from their highly successful orthopedic department.

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Guy Page is affiliated with the Vermont Energy Partnership, the Vermont Alliance for Ethical Healthcare, and Physicians, Families & Friends for a Better Vermont.

Twenty-one employees — including several senior level appointees — received bonuses of $2,500 or more. Their names, titles and dates of award appear below. The full list of recipients totaling about 500 state employees receiving an estimated $379,000 can be seen as Google document.

The State of Vermont merit bonus program began in 1995 as “a positive way to inspire excellence in performance and an appropriate way to reward those employees who contribute beyond expectations,” a 2001 Human Resources Dept. memo by then-Secretary for the Agency of Administration Kathleen Hoyt explains. The memo also answers the following questions:

Who qualifies for merit bonus consideration? All classified (permanent, hired, full-time) State of Vermont employees and some types of exempt employees. Exempt (non-classified) employees include State Police, temporary, elected and appointed employees.

How are merit bonus recipients selected? Each agency or department appoints an awards committee, which then sets its own criteria, within a set of established guidelines.

How is the size of the merit bonus determined? The bonus cannot exceed 8 percent of the employee’s annualized pay.

In addition to Ms. Henkin, these state employees received bonuses of $2,500 or more between January 2017 and August 2018:

  • Michelle Anderson, attorney and Chief of Contract Administration at the Agency of Transportation – $2500, awarded 1/21/2017.
  •  Karen Godnick Barber – $4000, 1/6/2018. According to the online Vermont State Employee Directory, Ms. Barber is General Counsel for the Dept. of Mental Health.
  • David Borsykowsky – $2898.48, awarded 4/14/2018. The state employee directory lists him as a staff attorney for the Office of the Attorney General. According to his Linked In page, Mr. Borsykowsky is Assistant Attorney General, Division of General Counsel and Administrative Law.
  • Mary Cassani, Administrative Services Manager for the Department of Liquor and Lottery – $2500, awarded 8/19/2017.
  • Jeffrey Cavender, Lottery Marketing and Sales, Director – $2500, 8/19/2017.
  • Krista Chadwick, Financial Director at Vermont Agency of Transportation (AOT) – $500 on 5/13/2017 and $7,000 on 6/23/2018.
  • Adam Costantini, Lottery Sales Representative – $3224.83, 5/13/2017.
  • Michael Ferrant, Deputy Director of Operations for Vermont Legislative Council – $2500, 8/19/2017.
  • Michael Fowler, State Engineer for AOT (retired July 2017) – $3500, 5/13/2017.
  • Michael Goldberg, Senior Blind Serv. Rehab Counselor, VT Dept. of Disabilities, Aging and Independent Living – $2500, 9/16/2017.
  • Emily Hawes, Chief Executive Officer for Dept. of Mental Health – $4000, 2/3/2018.
  • Brian Lapierre, Lottery Warehouse Coordinator – $2500, 1/21/2017.
  • Jonathan May, Lottery Sales Representative – $2555.90, 5/13/2017.
  • Scott Murphy, Vermont State Librarian – $4000, 5/27/2017.
  • Tammy Pidgeon, Lottery Marketing and Sales Support – $3238.56, 5/13/2017.
  • Katherine Corey Slocum, Chief Financial Officer of the Green Mountain Care Board – $6624.32, 8/19/2017.
  • Florence Smith, Legal Program Administrator of AOT – $4838.91, 10/28/2017.
  • Mary Vaupel, Personnel Administrator at Liquor and Lottery, $2500, 8/19/2017.
  • Richard Watkin, Game Warden for Vermont Fish & Wildlife Dept. – $2500, 6/24/2017.
  • Jeremy Zeliger, Senior Program Manager, Vermont Judiciary, $4558, 8/4/2018.
  • Robert Young, Civil Engineer, Agency of Transportation (AOT), $3000, 5/13/2017.

The spreadsheet that provided this information is public record. It was provided by the VT Department of Human Resources to Daniel Brown, a Republican candidate for the Orange-Washington-Addison House seat in the Vermont Legislature, at his request.

Statehouse Headliners is intended primarily to educate, not advocate. It is e-mailed to an ever-growing list of interested Vermonters, public officials and media. Guy Page is affiliated with the Vermont Energy Partnership; the Vermont Alliance for Ethical Healthcare; and Physicians, Families and Friends for a Better Vermont.

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