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Lawmaker to lead state workforce agency

INDIANAPOLIS – Gov. Mike Pence announced a new commissioner Thursday for the Department of Workforce Development at a 26 percent pay increase.

And the old commissioner will stay on in a newly created position at a slightly higher salary.

Rep. Steve Braun, R-Zionsville, will start in late November after his current legislative term is fulfilled. He is running unopposed and will resign the post after elected.

It is past the deadline to remove his name from the ballot.

The workforce department is at least the fourth agency to get new leadership recently in Pence’s administration, which isn’t even two years old.

Current Commissioner Scott Sanders will remain with the agency as senior deputy commissioner, providing operational management and executive oversight of the unemployment insurance division.

Kara Brooks, spokesman for Pence, verified that Sanders’ position is new. He will make $120,000. According to the state’s transparency portal, his current salary is $118,565.

Braun will receive $150,000 – a 26 percent increase over what Sanders earned in the role.

“In this role, Scott will have the opportunity to focus more on his expertise of unemployment insurance, which he helped to modernize and put Indiana in the forefront nationally in this area,” Brooks said. “Steve’s strength is in the workforce space. The roles will allow each to maximize their strengths.”

In June, Pence asked Family and Social Services Administration chief Debra Minott to leave. Then just last week Indiana State Department of Health Commissioner Dr. William VanNess announced his resignation, citing personal reasons.

And the Department of Local Government Finance was just given a new leader as well.

“With expertise as both a public servant and a successful entrepreneur, Steve Braun has the unique background and skills necessary to continue to drive Indiana’s workforce development and pair it with innovative career and education opportunities for Hoosiers,” Pence said.

Braun has served in the Indiana House since 2012.

He will comply with the one-year restriction on lobbying the Indiana General Assembly.

Sanders has run the agency since April 2012 when he was appointed by former Gov. Mitch Daniels. Pence kept him on when he took office in January 2013.