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Some state workers get bonuses after three years of cuts, furloughs

Here's a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Administrators for the Idaho Legislative Services Office and the Department of Finance have approved cash bonuses for dozens of staffers at the close of the fiscal year. Records obtained Friday by The Associated Press show 102 staffers will be getting one-time bonuses on the final pay day scheduled for June 24. The bonuses range from $1,300 to as high as $5,000 for employees of those two agencies. Smaller bonuses have been approved for staffers in the Idaho Appellate Public Defender's Office and the Idaho Commission for Libraries. This year's round of bonuses is the first approved in several fiscal years for state workers. The pay perks also come in the wake of three years of significant budget cuts among state agencies and several years of state employee layoffs and furloughs; click below for a full report.

100 state staff get year-end bonus
By TODD DVORAK, Associated Press

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The directors of six separate state agencies have agreed to dish out thousands of dollars in one-time bonuses for more than 100 of their staffers to be paid out on the final payday of fiscal year 2011.

The pay perks range from as small as $500 to $5,000 retention bonuses paid to four top staffers at the Department of Finance, according to records obtained Friday in a public records request by The Associated Press.

Altogether, 102 employees at the six agencies will be paid bonuses when the last paycheck of the fiscal year is issued June 24. Other agencies approving bonuses include the Legislative Services Office, the Appellate Public Defender's office, the Industrial Commission, Board of Pharmacy and the Idaho Commission for Libraries.

State officials say the bonuses for state employees are the first paid out since the Idaho economy began its decline in 2008, prompting state lawmakers and Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter to call for deep cuts in state spending and budgets and impose hiring freezes, layoffs and furloughs for state workers.

Records show 59 staffers in the Legislative Services Office will get a pay bump next week, anywhere from $1,380 to $1,984 for top administrators. Director Jeff Youtz said the budget flexibility to hand out bonuses to his 59 employees was created by eliminating positions and other savings in the personnel budget.

Youtz, whose agency is part of the legislative branch, said he discussed with Republican House and Senate leaders months ago his intention to reward a staff that is now smaller but no less productive than it was before the economic recession.

"We've gone three years without a statewide salary increase and I just felt it was time to reward all my employees with a one-time salary increase," said Youtz. "I wish it were more. We're all being asked to do more with less. It's a philosophical decision every agency director has to make."

Earlier this year, a series of much smaller bonuses were approved for graduate assistants at the University of Idaho and 40 court reporters working for the Idaho courts system. Those bonuses were paid out during a period between February and May, according to records.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.

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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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