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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Proposal to Roll Back Pay Raises Hits Brick Wall

Lauren Dorgan reports in the Concord Monitor that Governor John Lynch's proposal to roll back pay raises is hitting a brick wall, for union and nonunion state employees alike:

All state employees are set to receive a 5.5 percent pay raise Jan. 1. But with the state budget in crisis - 2009 revenue is now expected to fall $250 million behind original projections - Lynch has targeted pay raises as one way to save money.

"We have taken a number of steps, including millions in cuts to state programs and services to help balance our budget, and additional work is needed," Lynch said in a statement yesterday. "Under the circumstances, I believe it is reasonable and responsible to defer the January 5.5 percent pay increase for state employees."

Lynch, a Democrat, has pushed the Legislature to meet next week to defer pay increases for nonunion employees who work for the state, including lawyers, managers, and those who work for the judicial and legislative branches. Meanwhile, Lynch has been in talks with leaders of the State Employees Association, whose pay raises are guaranteed by contract. For union members to lose their raises, they would have to first vote to reopen contract talks and then vote to ratify a pay freeze.

So far, neither of the governor's efforts has proven fruitful.

Tom Fahey also reports in the Union Leader on the House and Senate leaders shooting down Lynch's suggestion:
Lawmakers have decided not to act on Gov. John Lynch's proposal to save up to $2 million by deferring pay raises for state workers not represented by unions.

To kill the raises, the Legislature has to act before the end of the year. Last week House and Senate leaders reserved next Wednesday as a day when legislators could return for the money-saving move.

But yesterday, Speaker of the House Terie Norelli and Senate President Sylvia Larsen said they will not call lawmakers to Concord next week to pass a bill rescinding the raise. Dec. 17 had been set as a potential date for action, but the two said the issue was not ready to bring before 424 lawmakers.

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