While everyone was focused on Gov. Polis’s mask mandate last week, lost in the news cycle shuffle was a CBS4 investigation about some state workers awarding huge pay raises after budget shortfalls were forecast and as hundreds of thousands of Coloradans were losing their jobs.

It sounds a little like Polis was even encouraging employees to get while the getting was good, cause budget numbers were about to go bad. 

When confronted by CBS4 reporters, the executive director of Colorado’s Health Care Policy and Financing agency proudly stood by her decision that ignored budgetary warnings to instead award 5% to 9% raises to several senior executives already making six-figure salaries.

Over at the Transportation Department, one worker got a 23% raise bump up to $105,000 and another saw a 15% raise bringing their salary to $115,000.

A spokesflak at the agency gave this snarky explanation on the 23% raise for the employee who will manage bridge engineering design: 

“Given our $2 billion annual budget in recent years, the criticality of this role should be apparent.”

Huge raises were also discovered in the Department of Regulatory Agencies and at the Colorado Energy Office, but failed to raise eyebrows in the governor’s office. 

Instead of responding, the governor’s spokesflak directed CBS4 to a March 30 email sent government-wide alerting all to expect revenue declines and urging them to review future spending. 

Discretionary pay raises were not specifically mentioned in the email.

“Departments need to act now to ensure the State is prepared to manage what may be a minimum of 3-years of revenue reductions,” said the memo.

It looks like they took the governor’s advice and made sure some pockets were padded before hard times came a knocking.