It’s long been known that Idaho’s state employee pay lags far below the private sector for similar jobs, but that the state’s benefits are better. Many state workers could make far more in the private sector, but stay on because of a public service commitment and for the benefits. Gov. Butch Otter, however, wants to change all that. It’s been rumored for some time that Otter is looking to raise pay and cut benefits, something he’s been hinting at since he was elected. Now, his administration chief, Mike Gwartney, has unveiled just such a proposal, in a presentation to the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee at its interim meeting yesterday in Ketchum.
The Idaho Statesman’s Heath Druzin covered the presentation; read his story here. Among the revelations: Otter wants to raise state employee pay 5 percent a year over several years to make up the current 15 percent gap below market pay. At the same time, he’d cut health benefits until state workers pay 30 percent of the costs, up from 22 percent now. “The governor, for the next three years, will push like the devil for this,” Gwartney said.