Solutions sought for employee compensation
Discussion continues about the need to make changes in the way state agencies, including ITD, compensate their employees. Reports indicate that state salaries continue to lag behind similar positions in the public sector and local governments. As a result, state agencies are experiencing an outward migration of talent, expertise and experience.
Employee compensation remains one of the toughest issues the administration and legislators face every year. State government is a complicated 21st Century business. ITD and our fellow agencies rely on a well-trained, experienced workforce to deliver the products and services that Idahoans have come to expect.
I share the concern of transportation board members and the department’s executive team about losses we already have suffered to city and county governments and private businesses because salaries have not kept pace.
We make every effort to provide a workplace that is challenging and rewarding. We become at risk when the challenges significantly outweigh the rewards.
Human Resource Manager Mary Harker, in a report this year on personnel compensation, provides a compelling case. She said:
The Idaho Legislature responded last year with a CEC (change in employee compensation) package that included a modest increase on July 1 and a “surplus eliminator” that provided an additional one-time increase based on a revenue surplus.
The CEC committee considered several motions in mid-February and declined each one, forwarding to the Joint Finance and Appropriations Committee the responsibility to address salaries. JFAC members, on Feb. 23, decided to defer any action until the end of the legislative session.
We need to guard against misinterpreting that action, or in-action. The wait-and-see approach is fiscally prudent and could work to the benefit of state employees. Elected officials will have a much clearer picture of FY05 revenue late in the session and will be better positioned to create a CEC package that is realistic and fair.
In addition, the transportation board has asked the executive team to bring recommendations on how to administer salaries differently to address the trends Mary Harker highlighted.