Sen. John Goedde, R-Coeur d’Alene, said, “This motion may create some expectation that our educators would get something similar, in a percent increase. Do we have a number on what that would mean?” The answer: Each 1 percent in raises for state employees costs the state general fund $5.3 million. For teachers, the figure is $9.3 million.
Sen. Dan Schmidt, D-Moscow, who serves on both the Legislature’s joint revenue committee and JFAC, said in those panels, “There was a tepid belief that we’re raising expectations, we’re climbing out of a hole. I sense that in this motion. So to me, this motion appropriately reflects what we consider our duty as stewards for our state services. … I think this is an appropriate but tentative move, and given the fact that we need to be able to pay our bills, I think we will be able to pay this.”
Sen. Jim Guthrie, R-McCammon, said he doesn’t like the idea of one-time raises, and would favor just granting a permanent 2 percent raise. “I think if we’re going to step up and do 2 percent for state employees, we need to do it ongoing,” he said. “If I’m the only one that feels this way, I’ll likely support the motion.” Guthrie said relying on salary savings for any raises is not “equitable.” The motion calls for continue to tap salary savings for merit raises, on top of the appropriation for raises.
Rep. Phylis King said with state workers facing a hike in their health insurance costs, their take-home pay will fall, and raises should at least cover that hike. She said the first 1 percent in raises would just cover the increased health insurance costs; the second 1 percent would actually increase take-home pay.