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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Eye On Boise

‘Only way to get a raise is by applying for jobs in other agencies’

More testimony from this afternoon’s hearing on state employee compensation:

Kean Miller, an employee of the state electrical commission, told lawmakers, “When the employee group insurance plan goes up, my take-home pay will go down. That’s the truth. …. The result of that in the economy is I literally have less money to spend. It forces a downward spiral in the economy. … I will not be paying more sales tax, I will not be adding to business income, and I will not be adding to business income taxes. It has an effect.” She said she’s doing what’s called the “state shuffle:” “The only way I will be able to get a raise is by applying for jobs in other agencies. So I’m applying.” She’s a supervisor in her office, she said. “All three of my people have told me they are applying for other jobs because they need more money. That has an impact and cost to the state. It costs to spend time to recruit, to hire, to train. Consider wages as a tool you can use to get out of the recession.”

Heidi Graham said she’s “been a state employee for just shy of 30 years,” and said she believes the quality of customer service is waning. If pay is improved, she said, “The state will attract, hire and retain the best and the brightest, which will lead to competent, quality customer service that meets the needs of the public.”

Teri Gormley told lawmakers that after 10 years as a state employee, she makes $13 an hour, in a position for which the median is $19.30. “I thank you for having the hearing – it’s been a long time coming,” Gormley said. “It’s my opinion that keeping state employee wages down results in high turnover, less-qualified applicants. … We’re being expected to do more, work harder, with fewer qualified people. I currently spend no less than 50 percent of my time trying to train new administrative staff. … They realize they’re not going to get a raise, and they go elsewhere.” She said, “If you want to keep the dedicated state employees, you’re going to have to pay them more. We cannot keep this turnover.”

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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