Gov. Butch Otter and his fellow constitutional officers, the lieutenant governor, secretary of state, state treasurer, superintendent of public instruction, attorney general, and state controller, will all receive raises - eventually - under a bill narrowly approved by the Idaho House of Representatives Thursday.
The bill, pitched by Speaker of the House Lawerence Denney, R-Midvale, has been on the receiving end of changes as it has made its way through the Legislature. Originally, the bill called for the governor and others to receive a 4 percent pay cut in 2011, but to have that amount restored and pay returned to the 2010 level for the year 2012. The governor then would have received $121,000 for his services in 2013 and $125,000 in 2014. All other officers, whose salaries are set percentages of the governor's salaries, would also increase.
The raises didn't sit well with members of the House State Affairs Committee, however. Rep. Lynn Luker, R-Boise, successfully sent the bill to the House's amending order, where he lowered the amount of the pay raises. With Luker's changes, the governor would receive $117,000 for 2013 and $119,000 for 2014, which represents about a 2 percent increase for those two years.
On the House floor Thursday, Denney told fellow lawmakers that he feels the bill is "very modest" and helps to keep the officers' pay progressing. He said that when compared to the pay of state employees, who have seen yearly increases of approximately 2.6 percent during the past 12 years, and teachers, who have also had their pay increased at a rate of 2.66 percent, the pay increases for the officers, at about 1.6 percent over the same time span, could lead to the state needing to "catch up" compensation rates in the future.
Only one lawmaker, Rep. Steven Hartgen, R-Twin Falls, stood in opposition to the measure. He urged lawmakers to oppose the legislation because he feels that authorizing raises - albeit delayed ones - during a time of economic message is not good policy.
"I think this sends the wrong message," said Hartgen. He noted that the pay levels for the officers are very clear to those who seek the respective posts and that the Legislature should remember that.
Legislators voted 37-30 to approve the legislation, which now heads to the Senate. Gov. Otter's pay for 2010 is $115,348, which makes him the 13th lowest-paid state executive in the nation.
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