Responding to questions from JFAC members, legislative services chief Jeff Youtz said, “All the bill drafters are attorneys, with the exception of Mike Nugent, who is a walking encyclopedia.” Youtz said after 34 legislative sessions, law school would probably be a waste of time for chief bill drafter Nugent. (Actually, Nugent does have a law degree, in addition to a master's degree in public administration; he just hasn't taken the bar exam, as he doesn't need it for his work). Also an attorney: Legislative librarian Kristen Ford.
Youtz told budget writers that philosophically - and also according to state law - he believes state employees should get pay increases each year to keep their compensation in line with the private sector, “to retain and attract the best possible state employees you can get. … If it forces you to cut the number of employees to do that, I think you should do that.”
As for the legislative staff, Youtz said, “We've made a decision to work the people we have to a frazzle, and allow them to earn comp time.” Legislative workers build up comp time during the legislative session, then are entitled to take it off other times of the year on an hour-for-hour basis. However, he said, “I know for a fact I've got employees that are losing comp time and vacation time, just because they don't have the time to take that off.”
Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.
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