JFAC takes step on employee raises

Legislative budget-writers took a procedural step in the direction of providing state employee raises.

But they don’t need to find the money — at least not yet. And they didn’t talk about whether to boost teacher pay.

The Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee Friday accepted a report calling for a 1 percent pay raise for state employees, and a one-time, 1 percent bonus. A committee looking at state employee pay — convened this year for the first time since 2008 — unanimously recommended the raises a week ago.

The moves would cost about $11 million.

The CEC report does not cover teachers. Providing a 2 percent increase in teacher pay would cost about $18.6 million.

DeanCameron77
Sen. Dean Cameron, R-Rupert

Some key legislators — including Sen. Dean Cameron, JFAC’s co-chair, and Senate Education Committee Chairman John Goedde — have said they would like to pursue teacher raises that mirror state employee pay raises. Both Cameron and Goedde served on the CEC committee.

The topic of teacher pay did not come up in JFAC’s brief discussion of the state employee pay proposal.

Gov. Butch Otter’s 2014-15 budget recommends no raises for state employees or teachers. Both recommendations have drawn pushback at the Statehouse. On Wednesday, Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna reiterated his call for $16 million in leadership bonuses for teachers — calling it a first step toward establishing a teacher career ladder to boost salaries across the board.

JFAC is not obligated to enact — or fund — the state employee raises. Budget-writers can choose their own course. On Feb. 12, they will decide whether to fund raises.

And, as Cameron cautioned lawmakers, “That money has to come from somewhere.”

Disclosure: Idaho Education News is based out of Boise State University and its reporters are state employees. Their salaries are paid by a grant from the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation, not public tax dollars.