Because state employees are paid every two weeks, a quirk of the calendar means that once every 11 years, there’s an additional paycheck within the state’s fiscal year. That’s because there’s slightly more than 52 weeks in a year, and over the years, those extra days cycle around until there’s an extra pay period. Next year is the year, and lawmakers have to come up with the money – which isn’t a raise for state workers, who still just get their paychecks every two weeks.
The Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee has decided to get the necessary $29 million largely from an “economic recovery reserve fund” that the state set up to hold money from the second year of a cigarette tax increase. They’ll take about $16.5 million from that fund, which will use up all but about $3 million of the fund. The rest will go into the state’s general fund, and may help fund a water settlement. Federal and dedicated funds within agency budgets that go for payroll expenses will make up the rest of the 27th payroll expense.
JFAC members groused a little about the process, and wondered if they couldn’t come up with some better approach before it happens again in another 11 years. Sen. John McGee, R-Caldwell, the Legislature’s youngest member, turned to Rep. Frances Field, R-Grand View, one of the oldest. “Frances and I will volunteer to work on it,” McGee said to laughter.
Rep. George Eskridge, R-Dover, retorted, “I know Frances will be here.” McGee is serving his first term; Field is in her 11th.