The Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee has voted unanimously, 19-0, in favor of funding 3 percent merit raises for permanent state employees next year, as recommended by both Gov. Butch Otter and the Legislature’s joint Change in Employee Compensation Committee, and building that cost into every state agency budget it sets. It also approved a 3 percent increase in the state’s pay scale system, as recommended by both the governor and the CEC panel.
The total cost to the state general fund is $18,522,700. In total funds, it’s $38 million.
Rep. Neil Anderson, R-Blackfoot, who made the motion, also chaired the joint CEC Committee. Sen. Dean Mortimer, R-Idaho Falls, asked if department heads would have discretion as to how they allocate the raises. Anderson said yes. “That’s based on merit, which would provide discretion for department heads to allocate the monies,” he said.
Anderson said, “One thing that happened is we had 18 members on the (CEC) committee, so it was a large committee. We had six motions made, so there was some diversity of opinion. From the chair’s perspective, I thought that was a good thing – it showed the engagement of the members. A lot of people had opinions and they weren’t afraid to express those.” He noted that various proposals would have given part of the increase across the board, rather than solely by merit, or refrained from covering health insurance cost increases while granting larger raises. “There was unanimity in the opinion that we felt like we wanted to compensate our employees with a significant pay increase,” Anderson said. “It was just kind of a variance of opinion as to how we wanted to go about that.”