Eye On Boise

Lawmakers on state worker pay: 'We'll give it best shot we possibly can'

The Change in Employee Compensation Committee has wrapped up its public hearing on a somewhat somber note. "We can promise you process, we can't promise you outcomes," Co-Chairman Neil Anderson, R-Blackfoot, told the audience. "We will give it the best shot that we possibly can."

Rep. Ron Mendive, R-Coeur d'Alene, said afterward, "It's compelling. Granted, you can't make ends meet on those numbers and support a family." He said, "I"ll do whatever we can do. I'd love to see the economy turn around. The lower end, they're struggling. There's no question their concerns are real and their problems are real."

Sen. John Tippets, R-Montpelier, who is co-chairing the joint committee with Anderson, said he wasn't surprised by the moving testimony. "We recognize that we have great state employees, good, dedicated people who are working very hard to do a good job. ... We want to treat them appropriately." The committee is scheduled to vote on motions on Friday, though that could be delayed; Tippets said he'd prefer to see the business wrapped up. Today's hearing, he said, allowed lawmakers to "hear the human side of the story - the impact of what our decisions have on our state employees." Said Tippets, "There is a likelihood this committee will decide to recommend a pay increase. It's a definite possibility."

Rep. Tom Loertscher, R-Iona, said, "At this point in time, we really don't know what the budget numbers look like." He said, "I'm a big fan of putting money in the stabilization accounts, but we may have to do a little bit of something different than the governor's looking at."

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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Russell covers Idaho news from the state capitol in Boise and writes the Eye on Boise blog.

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