About 20 percent of Gov. Chris Christie's staff got pay raises this year, and for those who did, the gains were big, a newspaper reported Thursday.

Governor Chris Christie holds a press conference to announce he is putting in place solutions to deal with New Jersey’s budget shortfall for the current fiscal year of approximately $1 billion (Governor's Office/Tim Larsen)

The Record newspaper reports that of the 148 employees in the governor's office, 27 received salary hikes in 2014.

The newspaper found that almost all who did are responsible for helping craft the governor's image, including members of his press team and staffers who set up for public events like town hall meetings. On average, those 23 members of his team saw pay bumps of 23 percent.

The newspaper had requested the information through the state's open records law, but the administration only turned them over after the paper sued.

Some of those who received the biggest raises, the paper found, left the state payroll to work on the governor's re-election campaign and returned to his office this year with new titles and higher pay.

They include Kevin Roberts, Christie's former deputy press secretary, who made $75,000 in 2013. After leaving to serve as press secretary on the Christie campaign, Roberts returned in January as deputy communications director, with a salary of $90,000 a year. He was then bumped to $110,000.

Christie spokesman Michael Drewniak told The Record the increases reflected staffers' duties.

"Changes in salary in the main reflect changes in position, promotions, or expanded job responsibilities for these staff members," he said.

The raises come as New Jersey is facing an unexpected $2.75 billion budget gap over the next 13 months, which Christie is trying to close by delaying payments to the state's pension fund.

 

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