As the University of Montana struggles with budget cuts and plans on reducing teaching staff in many departments, some state officials are questioning salaries at the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education. Montana State Legislator Tom Burnett says the recent salary announcement for the new Director of American Indian and Minority Achievement, a position given to ex-lieutenant govern Angela McLean, seems unreasonably high.

"She has taken a new post in a job that will be assisting American Indian students on their road to college and on their success to college," Burnett said. "The position had been paying the previous occupant $72,000 the position was advertised as $82,000 to $92,000, but her pay will be $102,000."

Burnett says the dysfunction goes deeper, and questions the pay of Commissioner Clay Christian as well.

"It just looks a little insensitive on the part of the Commissioner of Higher Education to be increasing pay at the administrative level, when there are so many challenges on the front line of education," Burnett said. "The previous commissioner, prior to the hiring of Clay Christian was making in the 213,000 area, his pay, when hired was significantly higher and  has grown to $302,000."

Burnett argues that the salaries at the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education should rise and fall with enrollments at the Universities in Montana, which have seen enrollment declines since their peaks back in 2010 and 2011.