The Brief: Pay Disparity at State Agencies Defies Simple Analysis

The Big Conversation

With equal pay emerging as the single biggest issue this week in the contest for governor, The Texas Tribune's Aman Batheja and Dan Hill have taken a deep look at pay disparities across state government.

Their overall takeaway (w/ interactive graphic): "A Texas Tribune analysis of state payroll data shows that across wide swaths of state government, male employees make more on average than their female colleagues. But a closer look at the payrolls of individual agencies and offices — including those of both [Greg] Abbott and [Wendy] Davis — presents a more complicated picture. The evidence that men make more in government is most striking among the highest-paid workers at the state’s various agencies. Of the 50 highest-paid employees in state government, excluding those at universities, only 12 are female."

The picture, though, changes with each agency and "demonstrates that the issue defies simple explanation," Batheja and Hill report. In the Office of the Attorney General, for instance, women make up 70 percent of the workforce. Yet women at the agency earn on average $15,637 less than men, and only three of the 20 highest-paid employees are women.

But at the Texas Department of Transportation where women make up just 21 percent of the workforce and account for none of the top 20 salaried employees, women earn on average $4,257 more than men. A complex issue, to be sure, and, as Batheja and Hill write, "one in which different statistics can offer competing impressions."

The Day Ahead

•    David Dewhurst and Dan Patrick are scheduled to debate in Kerrville in a lieutenant governor candidate forum at noon. We will livestream the feed from KSAT.

Today in the Trib

Analysis: A Movable Definition of Conservative: "The Texas Senate's swing to the right started more than 20 years ago, when the incumbents' definition of extreme simply meant a Republican had entered the Capitol. Now some of those same Republicans are under fire for being too liberal."

Houston's Bold Recycling Plan: No More Separating: "The city of Houston, which recycles only 6 percent of the waste it collects, has a new idea to improve that figure: Eliminate that extra blue bin altogether."

In Sprawling Texas, Walkability Gains a Toehold: "Advocates for more pedestrian-friendly urban cores and communities say interest in making Texas cities more walkable is on the rise — a shift spurred in part by changing demographics and the state’s growing population."

Neal Smatresk: The TT Interview: "The president of the University of North Texas on his institution's unique approach to fixed-rate tuition, how he hopes to get students to graduate on time and what the school is going to do about its revenue shortfalls."

Must-Read

David Dewhurst defends bringing equal pay for women bill to Senate floor, The Dallas Morning News

Dan Patrick appears with Mike Huckabee, says he wouldn’t support bill to make equal pay lawsuits easier, The Dallas Morning News

Planned Parenthood eyes Texas race, The Associated Press

Ad hits 'oldest member in Congress' Ralph Hall, The Hill

Greg Abbott plays awkward role in fight over Michael Quinn Sullivan documents, Austin American-Statesman

Koch Group, Spending Freely, Hones Attack on Government, The New York Times

Bob Strauss’s Town, Politico

Quote to Note

"We had probably one of the best constitutional law discussions since I got out of law school. And I loved it, we just had a great intellectual discussion, but we quickly moved to … there are trends in the economy that have nothing to do with partisanship that are just bad."

— New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker on his much-remarked dinner with colleague Ted Cruz

News From Home

•    The Texas Tribune is participating in Amplify Austin! The 24-hour Central Texas giving festival begins at 6 p.m. on March 20 and ends at 6 p.m. on March 21Preschedule your gift of $25 (or more) to the Tribune today and have it count to Amplify Austin.

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Trib Events for the Calendar

•    A Conversation With Sen. Charles Schwertner and Reps. John Raney and Kyle Kacal at Texas A&M University in College Station, 3/27

•    A Conversation With Mike Collier, Candidate for State Comptroller at the Austin Club, 4/17

•    A Conversation with U.S. Rep. Mike Conaway at Midland College in Midland, 5/13

•    Save the date for the 2014 Texas Tribune Festival: 9/19-9/21