Lawmakers agree to put most classified state workers on salary schedule

Lawmakers have agreed to adopt most of Gov. Kenny Guinn's plan creating a salary schedule for unclassified state workers.

The plan was designed to cure complaints from numerous state administrators, professionals and specialists that there was no logic in how their salaries are set. Many have charged over the years their pay is set in a popularity contest that often results in big differences between the salaries paid to comparable positions in different agencies.

Chief of Staff Mike Hillerby as well as Ways and Means Chairman Morse Arberry, D-Las Vegas, and Assemblywoman Sheila Leslie confirmed an agreement has been reached that would put the majority of state unclassified workers into the pay schedule.

But they also confirmed the top administrators - department and division heads and their deputies - will remain outside the schedule. Their pay will still be set in the traditional unclassified pay bill which materializes near the end of each legislative session.

Hillerby said the governor's office will be pleased with the legislative action as long as it retains the changes recommended by the personnel study committee designed to equalize pay levels throughout state government for those with similar levels of responsibility.

"As long as they don't mess with individual tiers," he said. "They can't say this deputy director is in and this deputy director is out."

The proposal not only creates a system of tiers for existing unclassified workers, it unclassifies 201 currently classified workers. Among those are the prison wardens and the head of the Nevada Highway Patrol.

Under the compromise developed by lawmakers, some special positions such as the personal secretaries to department heads will be allowed to remain in classified service if they wish. New appointees to those posts, however, will be unclassified.

Another change from the governor's recommendation is that public information officers in most agencies will remain in the classified service.

Hillerby said, when the plan was presented the tier system was designed to cure problems such as those in Cultural Affairs where the four division heads are in three different classifications.

Personnel Director Jeanne Greene said in February the problem is widespread - that 41 division administrators are currently classified and 48 are unclassified.

All would be unclassified in the governor's proposal.

There were 512 positions on the list but more have since been added as the attorney general's office and other agencies originally exempted were put into the mix.

Those working on the plan said the remaining issue to resolve is how to set uniform salaries for the numerous lawyers employed by the state - including those deputy attorneys general originally excluded.

The proposal is expected to be presented to the money committees within a week or so.

n Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at or 687-8750.


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