Legislative Counsel Bureau approves pay grade increases amid pandemic
The Legislative Counsel Bureau has approved pay grade increases for eight to 10 different job classifications including a three-grade increase for the legislative police.
Each grade increase is worth between 4 and 5 percent more pay.
But Legislative Counsel Bureau Director Brenda Erdoes said the changes really won’t cost much for several years because temporary session hires will come on at a step one in the state’s pay scales even if they were on the payroll last session at a higher step.
The grade increases would apply to all permanent employees in those job classifications as well, not just the temporary session hires.
And state human resource rules say that for a one or two grade increase, employees keep their step in the pay scale. Even with the police getting a three-grade increase from 36 to 39, current officers would only lose one step.
That’s the same pay grade NHP troopers are at while comparable positions in the Capitol Police and Supreme Court Marshalls remain at Grade 36.
LCB was approved for both early session hires and session hires at the last Legislative Commission hearing. The number of positions in each classification and the reason for hiring more camera operators, janitors and police were discussed. In addition, the pay grades for each position were listed but there was no mention of the fact some of the pay grades were raised from last session. Erdoes said the final decision is still up to lawmakers who would have to include the necessary money in the budget during the 2021 session.
Those increases come at a time when nearly every executive branch agency is under a hiring freeze because of the revenue shortfalls caused by the economic shutdown. In addition, executive branch workers lost the 3 percent cost of living adjustment approved by the 2019 Legislature.
Erdoes “said the increases won’t amount to much of a cost increase immediately but will help make it easier to fill positions because, down the road, their maximum pay will be higher. She said temporary posts are hardest to fill.
“There are a lot of people out there you hear but there are not a lot who want to take a four to six month job,” she said.
She also said that its well known that state jobs are underpaid compared with comparable positions in local government. Because of those factors, she said LCB started the 2019 session with a number of vacancies including among the police. Those posts she said have become more critical as lawmakers are now receiving more threats, harassment and social media attacks than in the past.
The largest number of temporary positions on the list are up to 33 added camera operators and a similar number of janitors.
How many are actually hired, she said, depends on how much of the 2021 Legislature is held virtually instead of live and in person. Normally, they hire only four or five more camera operators to manage committee hearings and a half-dozen more janitors. To attract people to the camera operator jobs, their pay was raised two grades. They will hire 22 more police for the session, about the same as two years ago.
Pay for the janitor positions was not increased but those hires are also in part tied to how much of the session is in person versus electronically because of the pandemic. Sanitization, she said is critical because of the virus.
Also receiving two-grade increases are the lobbyist/press credentials clerk, the director’s message center operator and, police clerical assistant.
One grade increases were approved for three research policy assistants and the police surveillance technicians.
Also included in the list of hires are three Human Resource Trainers — director or division chief level positions at grade 50 who are paid over $100,000. She said those positions will be important since several LCB division chiefs are planning retirement.