Top administrative staff at the Department of Human Services received almost $200,000 in pay raises in the past year before the agency cut senior nutrition programs, records show.

“These raises were given at a time when the economic situation was bad and getting worse and a budget shortfall was clearly imminent,” said state Rep. Randy Terrill, R-Moore. “In light of the raises, I find it hard to believe DHS could not find any way to save money other than cutting nutritional programs for the elderly.”

 Records show 29 of the top 36 administrators at the agency received raises in the past year. The pay raises ranged between $135 per month to an additional $1,894 per month. The pay raises totaled $16,380 per month and $196,560 per year.

Terrill noted the pay raises were not approved by the Legislature and it is not known if those receiving the raises assumed any additional job responsibilities.

Terrill likened DHS officials’ actions to AIG executives who received millions in bonuses after obtaining taxpayer-funded bailout money from the federal government.

 “DHS has violated the sacred trust with our seniors in the same way many greedy Wall Street robber barons violated the trust of the taxpayers who bailed them out,” Terrill said.

He said the case illustrates the need for even greater scrutiny of agency budgets as lawmakers revise appropriations due to the downturn.

“This unconscionable series of events calls into question the judgment of DHS’ senior management,” Terrill said. “With state workers facing furloughs or layoffs, the Legislature should scrub every agency budget to determine whether the DHS abuses are an isolated case or just the tip of the iceberg. Somehow, I suspect the latter.”