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House panel approves 2011 pay cut for Otter and six others

House panel approves 2011 pay cut for Otter and six others

Dustin Hurst
March 22, 2010
Dustin Hurst
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March 22, 2010

A pay cut is still in the works for Gov. Butch Otter and the six other elected officials deemed as "constitutional officers," namely the lieutenant governor, secretary of state, state treasurer, attorney general, state controller, and superintendent of public instruction.  Despite an attempt by Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Eagle, to kill the bill because of proposed pay increases for years 2013 and 2014, the House State Affairs Committee voted Monday to send the pay cut legislation on to the House, albeit with some minor changes.

The bill, sponsored by House Speaker Lawerence Denney, R-Midvale, is a piece of legislation that is proposed once every four year in the legislature.  The bill sets the pay rates for the seven constitutional officers for the following four years, and this version covers years 2011-2014.  In 2011, all seven would face a pay decrease of 4 percent, followed by an increase in 2012 to bring officer pay back to 2010 levels.  Denney's bill called for the governor to earn $121,000 for 2013 and $125,000 a year in 2014.  At that point, the salaries for the six officers would be a percentage of the governor's pay and would rise proportionately based onthe governor's increase.

Labrador tried to stall the bill over concerns about the economy, but his motion was never voted on.  Had it been approved, the move to kill the bill would have meant that pay for the seven officers would have stayed the same for the next four years.

Rep. Lynn Luker, R-Boise, proposed lowering the governor's increase in 2013 to $117,00 and  $119,000 in 2014.  Luker's motion did not directly affect the pay of the other six officers, but as a result of lowering the governor's salary, the pay for the other six would be reduced.

Luker’s move seemed to satisfy lawmakers, but one of the constitutional officers, Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna, said the bill wasn't complete.  Luna testified before the committee, saying that officers should have the ability to reject pay increases if they so choose.  Luna told lawmakers that as his department is slashing budgets and forcing workers to take workers to take furloughs, thereby reducing their pay, it is wrong to approve a plan that gives raises to the elected officials.

In the end, lawmakers accepted Luker's idea and rejected Luna's.  Members voted to send the bill to the House's amending order, where Luker's changes will likely be made.

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