Sen. John Tippets, R-Montpelier, has proposed that all state workers who are at just 68 percent of the policy-level pay for their position be moved up to 70 percent, with the exception of pay grade D, which is those at minimum wage or $7.25 per hour. In addition, he proposed calling on JFAC to appropriate $354,325 to pay for the change. After some discussion, the joint Change in Employee Compensation Committee approved Tippets' proposal on a unanimous vote.
Tippets said the minimum used to be 85 percent of policy. It’s been moved down several times in recent years. “In my mind, the recession we experienced in recent years had at least two impacts on our compensation system,” Tippets said. “First, it made it extremely difficult to fund pay raises, and we have lost ground. ... No. 2, I believe it also did some damage to our compensation system, and I would like to see us restore that.”
If we’re going to do this, the funds to do this should not come out of the 3 percent for merit increases,” Tippets said. “This should be an amount in addition to that 3 percent.” The change would impact 456 employees, 331 of whom work for the state Department of Corrections. Gov. Butch Otter already is calling for some pay boosts for correctional officers, and Tippets said his proposal could reduce the cost of Otter’s move, offsetting some of the cost.
Rep. Phylis King, D-Boise, said, “That’s a great idea – I wish I would have talked to you before the committee.” Rep. Robert Anderst, R-Nampa, asked whether Tippets’ proposal could be accomplished with agency salary savings instead of new state funds. Tippets responded that there are variations between agencies in their ability to tap salary savings, and it'd be better to fully fund both this proposal and the 3 percent merit raises. At that, a voice vote was taken, and support was unanimous.