Refusing the Pay Plan is Bad Economic Policy

The state pay plan is one of the most important issues facing working Montanans, but very few people understand it, including plenty of Montana Legislators. Last week House Bill 13 (the state pay plan) was tabled by Representative Ballance and the Appropriations Committee despite the fact that the committee heard overwhelming support for the bill.

The state pay plan accomplishes two very important things. First, the legislation gives state employees a modest fifty cents an hour pay raise. Second, the legislation matches insurance increases. The second part is a bit more complicated, but, in many ways, it’s the most important part of the state pay plan.

State employees are looking down the barrel at a 10% and 8% increase to their health insurance costs. That means that a single employee will see over $2,000 in lost wages. The numbers get worse for people with families.

Most state employees aren’t paid very much. In fact, some employees are already on food stamps. So imagine what a loss of $2,000 for someone making $12/hr looks like.

The legislature’s failure to pass the state pay plan amounts to a pay cut for state employees.

It’s also bad economic policy. Montana Chambers of Commerce support the state pay plan for good reason: it’s good for Montana’s economy.

State employees spend money at Montana businesses. The failure to pass the state pay plan means Cascade County’s economy will take a hit of $1.5 million; Deer Lodge will also take a $1.5 million hit; Flathead and Silver Bow will take $1.7 million hits; Missoula will lose out on $1.2 million; and Yellowstone will see over $2 million less spent in their local economy.  Every county in Montana will see less money and their local economies will feel the pinch.

It’s painfully ironic that legislators are unwilling to even debate the state pay plan considering the fact that it was the Montana Legislature that demanded state employees negotiate with Governor Bullock and come up with a deal. This is deal they asked for and now they’re backing out, gutting paychecks, and hurting Montana’s local economies.

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6 Comments on "Refusing the Pay Plan is Bad Economic Policy"

  1. In-BALLANCE’D’ to be sure….she’s wielding more power than King Canute (a.k.a. – Knudsen) and certainly not with any harmony or humor like former Rep. Ankney – no liberal mind you – who was able to get ONE HUNDRED to one consensus on 2013 HB2. This ‘bad’ ‘Ballancing Act’ where not even HB3 gets done is horrible and devisive, and just being done out of spite from her little world.

  2. Old Line Democrat | April 1, 2015 2:55 PM at 2:55 PM |

    While, the denial of a pay raise to state workers is a bad economic move as described in the post, it is just more of the vilification and abuse of government workers by these Legislators.
    But as a better illustration of the bad economics of “punishing state government”, consider that in the first round of budget cuts, the Budget Committee eliminated the rent that DNRC pays to maintain its offices on 11th St. in Helena. Of course this rental of office space is part of the earlier conservative thinking that the state was better off to rent from private business than to build building of its own. Now DNRC’s lease is up and they have no budget to continue it. So, soon all of those employees furnishings equipment etc. will be evicted for failure to have a valid lease.The private property owner has the right and need to have his property be productive and occupied so he will no doubt either rent to someone else or wait for some time and then renegotiate a lease with the State, at a higher rate, so DNRC can continue to use the space.

    Either we as taxpayers will pay a higher lease payment to stay in a building we already had leased or we will have to foot the bill for getting a new space, paying for the move, redoing all the stationary, phone lines, business cards, forms etc. etc. just because this small group of Legislators wants to make a point that they don’t like state agencies, the governor and apparently any one else who has any common sense or understands the basic economics of paying rent.

    The waste of time and effort that this Legislature in particular has caused due to the inane, spiteful bills that have been presented would appall any taxpayer who would see it. But apparently, this is the way enough voters want it to be because they keep electing these nutjobs.

  3. meanwhile, ‘gamer’ and ‘underpaid’ GOP legislators vilifying public employees while DRAWING very, very generous health insurance that they still get when they’re NOT working after the 90 day session. The hypocrisy is cruel and spiteful.

  4. Old Line Democrat | April 1, 2015 6:28 PM at 6:28 PM |

    To follow up on the extent of the foolishness, the Teapartiers and right-wing hypocrites who are on the state insurance plan will suffer their OWN “tax” increase in increased premium costs for everyone!!

    Stupid to the point of self-mutilation.

  5. Where are the “calls to action” and the protesters demanding a pay plan for Montana’s unfunded pension liabilities? https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1uaNVzfeKQ3XD_M696zuuzIWafHnaslkJfmeRODi137I/edit?pli=1#gid=1293504575

    Almost $15B. Only 36% funded.

  6. Last Post was self-mutilating!

    Wondering who on Budget voted((supported))
    ?Not renewing the DNRC Rental Agreement?

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