February 12, 1998 in Idaho

Lawmakers Ok $21 Million Pay Hike For State Employees

Associated Press

A big chunk of Gov. Phil Batt’s new budget spending plan fell into place Wednesday as the Legislature gave final approval of his $21 million pay increase for state workers.

Over Democrats’ objections, the House voted 47-18 for a resolution granting the increase in July.

Nine of the 11 House Democrats voted no, with most saying the pay plan would give supervisors too much leeway in deciding which employees get merit increases.

The big winners among the state’s 16,000 employees will be workers at the low end of pay scales for their jobs. The legislation directs state managers to focus on bringing employees with satisfactory work records after at least five years on the job to the midpoint of their pay schedules - something analysts say will take $8 million to $9 million.

“This is an attempt to help those in the bottom grades as much as possible, and I believe we have done so,” said Rep. Christian Zimmerman, R-Cascade.

Rep. Ruby Stone, R-Boise, was among those objecting to the pay plan. She said state workers didn’t get a pay increase last year, and if raises are granted on merit in the next budget, some could go without raises again.

“The majority are very hard-working, dependable and capable people,” she said. “Merit pay just doesn’t get it.

“You all know that there are favorites within groups, and supervisors will give the merit raises to those favorites. This is grossly unfair,” she said.

The bill passed the Senate earlier with just two dissenting votes.

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