State workers win at the deadline

If lawmakers have their way, state workers across the board will get a 3 percent pay raise in each of the coming two fiscal years instead of 2 percent.

Literally minutes before the clock struck midnight, ending the 2017 Legislature at the conclusion of the 120th calendar day, the Assembly amended Senate Bill 369 to add a percent more pay each year to the 2 percent each year that Gov. Brian Sandoval included in his recommended budget. The vote was 31-11.

Almost immediately, the bill was transmitted to the Senate, which approved the amendment and ordered the bill enrolled and shipped to the governor.

The amendment was made with no advance notice, no committee hearings, no discussion or debate.

“It was available when we did our final crunch of the numbers,” said Assembly Finance chairman Joyce Woodhouse, D-Henderson, when asked where the money would come from.

Sandoval said he and his staff had no warning that the amendment was coming.

“It was a complete surprise,” he said.

According to the totals in the amended bill, the 1 percent added Cost of Living Adjustment would cost the state $10 million in Fiscal 2018 and another $20.5 million in Fiscal 2019.

It would apply for all state workers, both classified and unclassified, including those supported by the highway fund and university classified workers as well as General Fund employees.

Sandoval’s Chief of Staff Mike Willden said that is on top of the $18 million and $37 million the 2 percent raise each Fiscal year would cost the state.

Sandoval said if he signs the bill, the total increase in the cost of state salaries would be $85 million over the biennium.

Asked where the state would get the extra money, he said, “that’s a good question.”

Sandoval said he and his staff will have to “true up everything” — do the calculations on the budget — before deciding what to do with the surprise pay raise.

Whether he signs or vetoes SB368, it will have no effect on the 2 percent raise each of the coming years that he included in his budget since that increase is contained in SB517, a separate bill.


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