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Trail says state employees at poverty level

Gov. Dirk Kempthorne
State Capito

Dear Governor Kempthorne:
During CEC testimony many state employees shared with us the fact that they have lost 6% of their buying power this past two years. Obviously, a 2% increase will only make up part of the ground.

Members of the CEC Committee were disturbed to hear testimony of how many employees work at from 1-5 extra jobs to survive, utilize food stamps, and are on welfare or qualify for welfare. I was interested to learn how many of our state employees are paid below the poverty level. This is a summary of my findings:

  1. The state employees 12,006 full time classified employees and 618 or 5.1% make less than the $19,000 poverty level.
  2. BSU--BSU has 1747 total regular benefit eligible employees. A total of 181 or about 10.36% are at or below the poverty line. I suspect the findings for other educational institutions would be similar.
  3. A letter from a BSU employee reported that "Last week my husband, who works for the facilities maintenance department, brought home a form called "BSU Goodwill Request Form," which is a request to receive free meals. Instead of paying a livable salary they are providing with their own letterhead, a request to receive free meals for at least two meals a week. The forms were handed out shortly before discussions of whether or not to provide state employees a 2% raise." One cringes when it looks like our flagship institutions are starting to develop soup kitchens to take care of state employees.
  4. A survey of our state school districts indicate that of the over 14,000 non classified staff that about 34% are at or below the $19,000 or poverty level.
  5. State employees are almost in 100% agreement that a pay increase should be across the board. They say that when agencies are delegated authority to use salary increase monies that employees and administrators at the top get just about everything and those at the bottom get none.

I wanted to share these concerns with you. The data clearly are not the type that one wants to convey as bragging rights about how the State of Idaho takes care of their working force.
Rep. Tom Trail, Moscow