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Eye On Boise

Luna: Not requesting any raises for state Dept. of Education employees

State schools Supt. Tom Luna told legislative budget writers this morning, “I'm not requesting new funding for my agency,” other than the continued requests for completing the multimillion-dollar longitudinal student data system - that's $873,800 in state funds and the next, $11.6 million phase of a grant from the Albertson Foundation. Luna said he's not requesting any money for raises for employees, known in legislative parlance as CEC, for “change in employee compensation.” JFAC Co-Chair Maxine Bell, R-Jerome, said, “Everyone who has come before us has put CEC first,” and she noted that Gov. Butch Otter has proposed addressing state employee pay. “You have got 133 employees and you don't want any CEC? It concerns me. … We're all striving to see what we can do in that area.”

Luna responded, “Want, or need?” He said, “I think that when you see that our department has seen double-digit reductions in our appropriations over the past few years, then we would always be looking for more sources of revenue, but we prioritize - where we think the first dollar should go is to the public schools, not to the Department of Education. I don't speak just for myself. This is the priority of the whole department.”

Under questioning from JFAC members, Luna noted that he got a pay increase, required by law, which he opposed and donated to charity. “I've received an increase this year of 4 percent. I think the only employees that are making more now than they were before is because they were promoted.”

Luna said he'd prefer that top elected officials like himself get the same CEC as all state employees, “and if it's zero, it's zero, if it's cut it's a cut. … A leader never asks others to do something he's not willing to do himself.” JFAC Co-Chair Dean Cameron responded with a grin, “We're glad to know you would like to have it the same, and we will set you up a pay for performance program as well.”

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Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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