Making sense of state employee system

Gov. Kenny Guinn and his staff deserve credit for wading into a quagmire of state government personnel issues by proposing a plan for unclassified employees.

If you don't work for state government, the plan doesn't mean much more than extra tax dollars to pay higher salaries.

If you do work for the state, then the prospect of some of the higher-paying positions getting big raises may not sit very well, especially if you're looking at 2 percent raises the next two years and your boss is looking at 20 percent.

If you are one of the 201 people who may be directly affected, then you could be exchanging less job security for a bigger payday - and, in the long run, a system that makes more sense than the hodgepodge developed over the years.

In essence, the Nevada Legislature will get a proposal that tries to put similar jobs on the same footing within the personnel system.

An example, as outlined by Appeal reporter Geoff Dornan in an article in Monday's edition, would be in the Cultural Affairs Department. Guinn's chief of staff, Mike Hillerby, noted the four division heads in the department are in three different personnel classifications.

It would move prison wardens, as another example, out of the classified system of government employees and into the unclassified system, while setting up criteria for pay scales.

The overall design of the plan makes sense - a lot more so than current designations of many of the state's top administrators. Whether all those positions deserve the significant pay increases associated with the plan - from 10 percent to as high as 56 percent - is another question.

Legislators should break the issue in two - the plan to change job classifications, and the pay ranges associated with them. In addition, the plan doesn't address some significant portions of the state, such as the Attorney General's Office. They might as well address those positions while they're at it.


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