Nevada state employees have made their case for higher pay, and Gov. Kenny Guinn seems on track to get them a raise in the 2002-3 budget.
A salary survey showed what many state employees already knew - they are well behind the pay scales of private industry and local governments, which continue to grab some of the best people from state offices.
Raises of 5 percent next year and 3 percent in 2002 won't go far to help them catch up, but it should help stem the exodus. And raises send a message that state employees are appreciated, which would go a long way to prop up sagging morale.
We strongly support reasonable, deserved pay raises for state employees. Unlike the popular misconception of state workers, we know many in Carson City who are hard-working, dedicated and enjoy their jobs. We also know they are having a hard time deciding whether they should stay in those jobs.
Guinn knows the value of quality employees. He has surrounded himself with good people and pays them well. Other state departments deserve the same.
The question should be, as it is in private industry, whether all the employees are needed. Guinn's review of state government should give him some answers there, as well.
There is a tendency, especially as pay scales fall behind the going rate and the best people move on, to fill their positions with less-qualified people. When those people don't measure up, positions are added to compensate. You don't want to end up with 10 people doing work that formerly was done by six.
Another issue is the shifting nature of responsibilities and workloads, so that some departments are perpetually understaffed and others find themselves with less and less to do. The Department of Motor Vehicles, for example, was given permission to add 64 temporary, part-time employees to handle the crush.
Pay is just one part of employee management. Clearly, though, the state should be paying good people well.