Bonuses for some state employees look bad
Taxpayer-funded bonuses and raises at time when many in private sector are taking pay cuts and teaching positions are being eliminated sends wrong messageThe directors of several Idaho state agencies have announced that they will be giving one-time bonuses that total about $167,000. That money comes from their fiscal year 2011 budgets — which means that money comes from you, the taxpayer. Those of you taxpayers who have had pay freezes for years now — and, in many cases, have in fact had to take pay cuts or furloughs — will be helping pay the top four officials at the Department of Finance $5,000 retention bonuses. Many other state employees will get smaller bonuses and raises (see list of agencies). Top administrators in the Legislative Services Office, for example, will get raises ranging from $1,380 to $1,984. So how do the directors of these agencies justify this? They say that they have had to deal with budget cuts, like everybody else. They’ve had to eliminate positions and freeze salaries. After implementing those austerity measures, they looked at their budgets and realized they had room to reward some of their hardest-working, most valuable employees. They don’t want to risk losing their talent to better-paying opportunities. These arguments would be perfectly acceptable in the private sector. If the CEO of a private company decides he can afford to give raises and bonuses to some workers, that’s his business. If the public doesn’t like it, they don’t have to patronize the company. But state employees work for us. We pay their salaries. And when we see the top dogs, who are already earning far more than many of us, getting $5,000 bonuses at the same time school districts are slashing teaching positions and cutting teacher pay, it just flat-out looks bad. Granted, $167,000 is just a drop in the bucket. It’s a tiny percentage of the approximately $2.4 billion 2011 budget — only 0.006 percent, in fact. And this is not to suggest that state employees at these or any other departments haven’t worked hard and earned a financial reward. State agencies doled out $1.5 million in bonuses in 2008. When the economy tanked, that total plummeted to $205,000 in 2009 and 2010 combined. They’ve had to cut back like the rest of us. They’ve had to do more with less, like the rest of us. And, like the rest of us who pay their salaries, they should wait until the economy improves before getting bonuses and raises.
Is it fair? You don't get a raise because of of a freeze or you lose your teaching job or take a cut in pay...is it fair?
I'm personally taken aback! I suggest we get rid of all of 'em all and start over. The reasoning of this conservative state is simply awesome.