Elected Officials Turn Down Pay Raise

By Beacon Staff

HELENA – The state’s top elected officials said Thursday they will turn down scheduled pay raises, the same day the state employee labor unions ratified a proposed pay freeze for rank-and-file workers.

Gov. Brian Schweitzer said the ratification shows that state workers “are all in this together.”

Schweitzer has already reduced proposed state spending once in the face of a recession that analysts worry could have a deep effect on state coffers.

The state employee unions earlier negotiated the pay plan with the governor’s office. It calls for a general pay freeze for state workers.

The state will, however, increase its payment toward the cost of health insurance. And full-time employees paid under $45,000 a year would get a one-time bonus of $450. Those earning more would not receive the payment.

“This agreement is fair to the taxpayers and reasonable to our state workers,” Schweitzer said. “I wish it could have been more, but these are difficult times.”

The agreement covers the next two years, and covers employees in the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, the Montana Public Employees Association, and the MEA-MFT unions.

The proposal now must be approved by the Legislature.

Schweitzer, Lt. Gov. John Bohlinger and Secretary of State Linda McCulloch all said they will “forgo” the pay increases that had already been established in state law.

State Auditor Monica Lindeen, Superintendent of Public Instruction Denise Juneau and Attorney General Steve Bullock said they will be donating their scheduled increases to charity.

“At a time when our state employees are being asked to go without a raise and other Montana families are struggling it’s the Montana way to lend a helping hand to a neighbor in need,” Bullock said in a release.

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