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Eye On Boise

Youtz recalls getting ‘BBQ’d’ by editorial writers for granting raises, but he cut jobs to fund them

Jeff Youtz, director of legislative services for the state, told lawmakers that in his 36 years of working for the Legislature, the joint Change in Employee Compensation Committee’s annual hearings and deliberations provided “an extremely valuable forum for you to receive information and stay in touch with state of Idaho employee compensation issues. When this committee doesn’t meet, I think there’s kind of a vacuum. … This is a very important committee.”

Idaho state law, he noted, states, “It is hereby declared to be legislative intent 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.”

Youtz said, “I’ve lived this paragraph. When we went through these budget shortfalls, I reduced my staff 10 percent in order to create savings in my department to create increases for those employees who were left. It’s a bit of a cold-hearted approach, but I think it requires some steadfastness … or you’re going to find yourself behind the 8-ball in staying competitive. … To a certain extent, that’s where we are now.”

Said Youtz, “I remember personally getting barbecued by some editorial writers around the state for giving salary increases. … I did it the hard way, by cutting employees.”

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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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