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State Work Force Leaner Under Batt, As Promised More Than 900 Workers Trimmed, Mostly From Health And Welfare, Transportation

Gov. Phil Batt is carrying out his promise to have a lean state government.

A state report issued Wednesday shows there has been a drop of 909 state employees in the two years since Batt became the first Republican governor in Idaho in 24 years.

The count, 22,481, is the lowest it has been since 1993.

The number of state employees hit a peak of 23,190 in January of 1995, when Batt was inaugurated as governor. That represented a growth of nearly 5,000 state workers in eight years.

Idaho’s largest agency, the Department of Health and Welfare, reached a peak of 4,662 workers in 1995 but 618 employees have been trimmed from that department in the last two years. The Department of Transportation cut 109 jobs to 1,893.

The reductions haven’t been uniform. Idaho State University, in a period of booming enrollment, added 111 employees in the two years, reaching 1,662 as of Jan. 1.

Boise State University stayed almost even at 1,533 employees, Lewis-Clark State College added 75 employees to 1,213 and the University of Idaho trimmed 60 workers from its staff to 2,780.

The report showed the state Department of Corrections, which had 520 employees 10 years ago, has more than doubled its staff, to 1,086 this year. The department is down 21 workers from last year.

State agencies also reported that as of Jan. 1, 135 state employees were paid more than the governor’s salary of $85,000 per year.

The governor’s salary, and pay for the other statewide officers, can’t be changed during their term of office. That means pay for the governor goes up only once every four years.

The list of state employees making more than the governor peaked in 1990, when there were 310 workers paid more than the governor’s $55,000.

As of Jan. 1, the report said 93 employees at the University of Idaho were paid more than the governor, headed by President Robert Hoover at $119,558. But other state employees said the annual salaries for some of the workers might be inflated by the fact they are on nine-month contracts.

Multiplying their hourly wage by 2,080 hours would give an inflated report on their actual pay.

Others paid more than the governor include nine at Boise State University, 14 at Idaho State University and 11 workers at Health and Welfare.

Lewis-Clark State College President James Hottois at $92,352 is the only employee at that school making more than $85,000.

Boise State President Charles Ruch remains the state’s highest-paid worker at $136,198. That includes a housing allowance of $19,794 per year. Idaho State President Richard Bowen is 12th on the list at $116,896.

The 10 highest paid Health and Welfare employees all are physicians.

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