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JFAC action: Commissioner raises, trailer bills, but no re-do on state employee pay

Idaho’s PUC commissioners, state tax commissioners and Industrial Commission members would get the same level of salary boost next year that has been funded for all state employees – 1 percent permanent, and 1 percent as a one-time bonus – under legislation approved by the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee. Those three commissions have full-time commissioners whose pay is set in statute. “Anytime we’ve had a CEC adjustment, we’ve had to make this adjustment for these three sets of commissioners,” said JFAC Co-Chair Sen. Dean Cameron, R-Rupert.

The raises will cost the state $6,700 from the general fund next year, $22,000 in total funds; that’s $11,000 for the permanent raises, and $11,000 for the one-time bonuses. PUC commissioner salaries would rise from $94,010 to $94,950; tax commissioners from $87,156 to $88,028; and industrial commissioners from $91,505 to $92,420. Those statutorily set salaries don’t include the one-time bonus portion. “These folks are state employees, and this is consistent with the actions we’ve taken,” said Sen. Shawn Keough, R-Sandpoint, JFAC vice-chair.

Cameron noted that there are still two other categories of state employees the joint committee will be asked to address concerning salaries: The judiciary, and state elected officials. A judges' pay increase bill, SB 1394, cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday.

The joint committee also unanimously approved so-called “trailer bills,” because they trail after the main legislation, to add funding for three other bills that are passing this year: SB 1350, setting up an investment advisory board to the state treasurer; HB 542, establishing a Public Defense Commission; and SB 1362, tapping endowment funds for loan repayment for top physicians at State Hospital South and State Hospital North, to aid in attracting and retaining doctors there.

Finally, Rep. Shirley Ringo, D-Moscow, asked for unanimous consent of JFAC to reopen all budgets except public schools “for the purpose of reconsidering the CEC language.” CEC stands for Change in Employee Compensation – which JFAC has written into all state agency budgets at 2 percent, half of that one-time, and half ongoing. Both Cameron and JFAC Co-Chair Maxine Bell objected, and as Ringo began to make a motion, Cameron banged his gavel and declared, “The committee will stand adjourned until 8 o’clock tomorrow morning.”

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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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