This morning House Appropriations, led by Representative Nancy Ballance, tabled the state employee pay plan. With only two days to move an appropriations bill it looks like that token 1% pay raise is dead, then again, it was probably dead on arrival to begin with. This decade of legislative sessions and state worker pay has brought those on the earning end no love from the people they elect and send to Helena. Ironic huh? Maybe that’s just a cause and effect of a voter who works for the State of Montana and casts a ballot with ideology in mind instead of their paycheck.
Maybe the real irony lies in the fact that on January 5th the very same committee voted 21 to 1 to pass House Bill 1 which contained a 14% increase for legislators. Pile that on top of their free government health care, payment into the retirement plan, a fancy new laptop and you have plenty of salt for the wounds of state workers. Never mind the fact that the head for state employees, Governor Bullock, sent the bill back with some amendatory vetoes and then two weeks later just let it become law as presented. And pay no attention to those union bosses who are mumbling ‘but we’ve always done it this way’. They’re dazed and confused by yet another kick in the crotch from the legislative and executive branches.
Certainly there’s time for the likes of Villa, Cook and Jones to concoct a plan that slides the necessary funds somewhere to give the maximum wing guard at the Montana State Prison a $312 a year raise, and that’s a job that starts out at fifteen bucks an hour. Or maybe it’s just too much to ask to move a pay raise of $192 a year for the cooks in Lewistown at the Home for the Aging as they feed the disabled their last meals.
So you state workers can sit a while longer and see what magic can get worked up there on the second floor over some whiskey in the dark of night. But you may want to remember they got theirs on day 4 of this session.
‘Maybe all men got one big soul ever’body’s a part of.’