Idaho’s annual Change in Employee Compensation report, which was required by law to be submitted to the governor and Legislature today, shows that state employee wages still lag 15 percent behind market rates, and calls for 5 percent raises, to be distributed by merit, to be funded for state employees except public school employees next year. But that’s not what Gov. Butch Otter is proposing in his budget. Otter said today he can’t advocate any raises at all for state employees next year, due to the state’s budget crunch.
“We did see the report before it was issued today,” said Otter’s budget director, Wayne Hammon. “They have certain things that they’re mandated to put in that report and go forward, so they did that, they’ve done their job. We just can’t do it.” The report also calls for making state employees pay for an increasing share of their benefit costs; Hammon said that, too, is likely to be put on hold. “In light of the current economic conditions, we have to slow the whole thing down,” Hammon said. Without raises, Otter won’t be proposing the accompanying benefit cost hikes, he said.
The report quotes state law, saying, “The Legislature declares its intent in Idaho Code 67-5309A that ‘regardless of specific budgetary conditions from year to year, it is vital to fund necessary compensation adjustments each year to maintain market competitiveness in the compensation system. In order to provide this funding commitment in difficult fiscal conditions, it may be necessary to increase revenues, or to prioritize and eliminate certain functions or programs in state government, or to reduce the overall number of state employees in a given year, or any combination of such methods.’” But Hammon said, “I believe that’s a requirement of the Legislature, who sets the budget. … All we do is recommend a budget. It’s the Legislature that actually sets it.” Here's a link to the full CEC report.