Johnson backs governor’s state employee pay raise packageAgriculture Commissioner Roger Johnson told members of the Legislature that the pay raises and benefits contained in Gov. John Hoeven’s budget are necessary to attract and retain qualified state employees.
Agriculture Commissioner Roger Johnson told members of the Legislature that the pay raises and benefits contained in Gov. John Hoeven’s budget are necessary to attract and retain qualified state employees.
“The salary adjustments included in Senate Bill 2311 and the continued payment of the entire health insurance premium by the state will send a positive signal to state employees about the value of the work they all do every day,” Agriculture Commissioner Roger Johnson said Thursday, before the House Government and Veterans Affairs Committee.
SB 2311 provides state employees with a five percent raise for each year of the coming biennium and establishes a market equity pool for additional salary adjustments, he said
“The North Dakota Department of Agriculture (NDDA) is a small state agency with fewer than 70 fulltime employees,” Johnson said. “During the current biennium, we have lost a tenth of them to the private sector. The proposed pay increases will allow us to better compete with the private sector and other potential employers who seek to hire our skilled employees.”
Johnson said he is deeply concerned that the House version of NDDA’s budget bill removes two percent from the salary line in order to fund a “critical salary funding pool” for filling vacant positions.
“That leaves only enough funds to provide our employees with 1.7 percent raises each year of the biennium, instead of the five percent authorized by SB2311,” he said. “It also means we may be stuck with a slow and cumbersome process for hiring people.”
Johnson said he also supports the market equity funds provided in the governor’s budget.
“Losing a state employee represents added costs of recruiting. It also represents a loss of investment in training and a loss of valuable experience,” he said. “Our equity funds would be used to make salary adjustments for field inspectors and bring them nearer the average of similar positions in other states.”
Johnson said continuation of the state payment of the entire health insurance premium for state employees “remains a strong inducement for retaining experienced staff, especially those nearing retirement.”