The 2011 Legislature's supplemental budget provides for $7.1 million as part of a long-term effort to bring state employee salaries in line with similar jobs in the private sector. Governor Matt Mead had recommended a smaller amount $6.1 million in general fund dollars for the same salary adjustments.
The new budget measure has the effect of moving salaries to 91% of market on July 1st. Previously, salaries were at 85% of market for classified employees and 80% of market for at-will staff. The Legislature did not include Governor Mead's merit based budget proposal.
"I continue to be a strong supporter of smaller and efficient government," Governor Mead said. "However, I support the Legislature's efforts to bring state employees' wages to near market; we need to attract the best people to provide excellent public service. I will also continue to work with the Legislature on efforts to reward exceptional work with bonuses."
Some employees will not see any change if they were already paid at or above 91% of market. The data deciding the market is based on research by the firm Haymarket.
Senator Phil Nicholas the chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee said that this is the first time that all salary increase funding has been channeled through market pay adjustments. "The law is the result of an intensive two-year effort using comprehensive surveys of public and private sector salaries," Senator Nicholas said. "The target percentage of 91% recognizes that public employees also receive generous benefits. The JAC looks forward to monitoring the program's success and will consider extending the program to the Judiciary, community colleges and the University of Wyoming." Senator Nicholas said he looks forward to continuing the investigation of a merit based system once an objective evaluation system is developed.
The chair of House Appropriations Committee, Rosie Berger, said, "This will allow Wyoming to be more consistent in budgeting through a comparison of many sectors of the workforce in all three branches of government to similar jobs in the private sector. The state invests in our employees and we would like to retain and attract the best individuals possible."