Idaho’s Legislative Services Office (LSO), which assists state lawmakers, paid out bonuses of at least $1,200 to 59 employees this year. The $94,633 given out is almost 42 percent of all bonuses given out to state employees, though the director of the agency said it’s in an effort to reward staff amidst shrinking staffs and budgets.

“I think the employees we have left that are doing more with less deserve that kind of recognition and compensation,” said LSO Director Jeff Youtz. He said that the bonuses are within his agency’s budget, and come after three years of no pay increases and a loss of six staff members..

“Because of these staff reductions and retirements, I had the money and I felt that my employees deserved them,” Youtz said. “There is no salary freeze on. The Legislature and the executive branch have been supportive of giving flexibility to agency directors to reward good people and balance their budgets.”

Wayne Hammon, Gov. Butch Otter’s budget chief and the leader of the Division of Financial Management (DFM), has urged state agencies to only give out bonuses to exceptional workers. “DFM has worked with all of them to minimize the bonuses and salaries, just because we’re trying to be fair across all the state agencies,” Hammon said. “We have not allowed agencies to give bonuses to every single employee.”

DFM, which is part of the governor’s executive branch, oversees budgets for most state agencies, but not for LSO, which is part of the legislative branch.

One lawmaker who helps write state budget said he’d review the LSO bonuses. “I think every agency is grappling with how to keep their good employees,” said Sen. Dean Cameron, R-Rupert. Cameron is one of the leaders of the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee, which is meeting next week and could look at the bonuses.

All told, 185 state workers have gotten bonuses this year for a total of $227,003. The middle point for those bonuses was $1,000, which is what 15 employees in the State Appellate Public Defender’s Office were paid, though bonuses ranged from $110 for University of Idaho graduate assistants to $5,000 for analysts in the Department of Finance. In the judicial branch, 40 court reporters received bonuses of slightly less than $1,000.

By comparison, in all of 2010, 86 state workers received $99,267. Almost half that amount — $49083.22 — went to Bob Maynard, the chief investor for the Public Employee Retirement System of Idaho (PERSI), who earns performance bonuses depending on how well the state retirement fund performs.

More than 380 state workers have also gotten pay raises during the current year, with the middle point for increases $1 an hour. The biggest increase went to Boise State University football coach Chris Petersen, the highest paid state employee. His hourly salary rose $62.72 an hour to $502.93. He signed a new contract extension last year.

Many of the wage increases and bonuses went to employees in agencies that generate revenue, including the State Insurance Fund, the State Liquor Division, the Department of Finance, and public universities and colleges.

Alex Neiwirth, a field organizer for the Idaho Association of Government Employees, said more than 95 percent of state workers aren’t getting any extra money this year. “Our main concern with it is equity and that these aren’t equitable at all,” he said.

“What should be happening is all state employees’ wages need to be keeping up with inflation instead of losing ground,” Neiwirth said.

Each of the past two years, the Idaho Division of Human Resources, which Hammon formerly ran, has issued a report saying the state should bring its workforce more in line with private businesses by raising wages and lowering benefits. Due to the tight state’s budget, lawmakers haven’t made any major structural changes to workers’ pay and benefits, though smaller spending plans have led some agencies to reduce staff and force remaining staff to take unpaid furlough days.

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  1. I am appalled at the news this evening that State employees get bonuses. I understand that people are working hard to pick up the slack when people leave and the FTE cannot be filled. I know all about having to do more with less. I am a business owner and provide Medicaid services to individuals with developmental disabilities and mental illness. We are a large agency in the state who started from nothing, have worked our butts off to provide many incredible services to our clients, and who now, face the challenge of keeping our 17 year old company alive because of the many Medicaid cuts to programs and services. Medicaid is contracting with single entities, in my opinion, to shut down as many private agencies as possible. I know what it’s like to work lean because we have done it for many years. We haven’t given our staff a raise in years. Not because we don’t want to but because in 17 years, we have had a 6% increase and a 30% cut. Sooooo…do the math – that’s an overall 24% cut in reimbursement in 17 years!!!! This is truth – it’s not emotional hype. I think bonuses and raises at the state level, when private agencies are at a huge risk of closing their doors, and when we are cutting school teachers and services left and right, is a huge demonstration of irresponsibility! I believe every single state worker should be mandated to work for the private sector before going to the state. It would shock the heck out of them and make them very grateful for the perks and benefits they have.

  2. This is all well and good and I’m sure they are deserved increases, but….now lets do these graphs for the civilian world. What kind if any increases where given to the average worker at the tire store, local restaurant, clothing store, hardware and sporting goods store, those that are still in business anyway. We’re not receiving bonuses or pay increases but our taxes are still rising to pay public employees wages. That means our standard of living is continually on a down slide. Every worker out here is doing more for less. If a company isn’t growing and making profits the owner can’t do squat to help their employees but the public sector can pass a levy, increase service rates or taxes on consumables, etc. This puts us in a deeper hole with no end in sight. That’s why it bothers us so much when we hear all the whining…we ain’t no better off than them but we’re paying for it. It really is that simple. Maybe that’s why bums rob rich people instead of other bums.

  3. How interesting that all but one of the IDOC increases came from central office. What about all those in the ‘field’?

  4. This is extremely deceiving data, and poorly reported from an investigative perspective. For instance, most of the bonuses reported for the University of Idaho are for employees that went from 100% positions (i.e., full time) the year before to less than 100% (in one case, the listed individual was forced from 100% to 60% or lose their job). Another individual listed as receiving a bonus at the UI went from professor to department head, which typically involves a pay increase. However, the pay increase resulted in an income that was less than the previous department head (i.e., UI saved money).

  5. There are approximately 19,000 state employees of which 102 got bonuses and the other 18,898 have not gotten a raise in three years, cost outlay for prescriptions have gone up, cost of parking in various departments, food costs have increased, MANY departments are not filling open slots where retirements or people leaving for other jobs have occurred, not just in those places listed, yet they are not getting bonuses for doing two, three and four jobs. State of Idaho benefits may look good on paper – and are much better than some – but I also have friends in the private sector who pay much less for health insurance than state employees and get better benefits. If there weren’t enough funds to go around to ALL state employees equally then those funds should have been used where most needed, such as education or keeping programs for the disabled going. Want to keep qualified employees? I know a whole host of them that are currently working hard for the state and are proud of the job they do. Being demoralized by not being one of the chosen few isn’t the way to keep employees or to boost morale.

  6. I don’t mind a bonus in the STATE of IDAHO the State should have put the bonus into other uses. Everything keeps going up. Some of the honest folks need help for food, clothing, prescription that they have to cut in 1/2 and make do and misc things they need. We are supporting so many illegal people form all over. Why not spend the $100.000. where it is needed. I see the state of Id. also got an average of $1.93 average increase in their wages. DO THE Senior citizen get an increase. No. Instead so much of the Medicare goes up/or has been cut. We,the people need help!!!!!! I agree with Deb on june 17th at 6:37 pm.

  7. […] of Idaho state workers receiving bonuses or salary increases may have raised eyebrows or outcry with some, but Sen. Dean Cameron, R-Rupert, who works closely […]

  8. Idaho’s Legislative Services Office does not care about the officers or the people in the field….They also believe in the “Good old boy system”. its very upsetting that we don’t get no raises for 4 years. They also keep telling us that there is no money
    but they can give out bonuses up to $5,000 dollars.

  9. This state makes me sick!!!! Being an officer with IDOC the front line worker I feel we all got a huge slap in the face. I hope all you who got your raise and bouns sleep well at night while we front line peons slug it out working massive overtime, watching our family suffer and working pay check to pay check. Oh it’s ok we still have your back keeping violent offenders locked up and out of your hair. Feels good huh.

  10. This is a joke!!! I am in 100% in agreement with “SICK”…. The state is basically saying, “It’s ok to work tons of over time with offenders/inmates. It’s ok to be away from the families when the majority of the people who did get raises are Mon-Fri and have weekends with their children and family.” I am horrified by this report like so many of us line staff! How much more would you like us all to bend over and take it? I was working 2 jobs to help support my family. I had to quit due to the over time hours were mandatory and questioned just how important my IDOC job was. I was forced to quit. I lost my house because the money I lost from my part time job. I would have never had a second job if IDOC PAID OVERTIME AND I WOULD HAVE NEVER LOST MY HOUSE!! Thanks for that!!! Oh and I have been working for IDOC way over 10 years. And yes folks, this is the thanks I get!

  11. Disgusted At Idaho

    Kuddos to Sick!!! The IDOC employees just got another hit in the face by the state, how many more do you think they are going to take before they have had enough? They hire some joke that can’t even get qualified with POST and has a record a mile long and they fire IDOC Officers for the same things “the morals in this state are a joke”. How can you even expect the IDOC Officers to look at upper management with pride when they don’t even take care of them? One thing that appalls me is my husband is a corrections officer for IDOC and they are treated like the scum of the state employees. They work overtime and never get paid for it, but keep in mind they are required to work it every single week. Can any other business do this and get away with it? The State of Idaho has become a BIG joke and we wonder why they can’t get more companies to come here to offer more jobs. I am so disappointed to see they gave out bonus to other state employees and others have not even had a pay raise for 4 years, forget about the people who are out there protecting our communities and keeping them in prison; maybe we need to be protected from our own state, they seem to be the real criminals. What a joke and they wonder why the morale is so low at IDOC and they keep telling them to keep trucking along, WHY I have to ask WHY?

  12. The public and the front line worker are being told it’s “tough times, do without”. Then the well connected ones who often are far removed from poverty, bypass the system and “get theirs”. Why do you suppose so many state workers become sloth-like about their duties! They are trained that performance is really not the key to reward. Connection and corruption is the key. Cronyism and “status quo” is how state management works. Example:ITD has various law enforcement agents. But dealers, farmers, wreckers and commercial trucking companies are granted protection from enforcement by ITD management’s decree. Do nothing and advance. Deal off the top of the deck and you are out of the game. Ask Pam Lowe how that works.

  13. I am a classified BSU employee and have been making the same pay for 4 years. It is ridiculous that someone would get a $14 an hour raise, I don’t even make $14 an hour.

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