House Speaker Lawerence Denney, R-Midvale, says the challenge to the Legislature's budget committee is more about process than a disagreement that could stall budget writing and delay adjournment.
On Tuesday, with House GOP leadership's backing, Rep. Steve Hartgen, R-Twin Falls, introduced House Concurrent Resolution 41, which calls for no raises for state employees. Gov. Butch Otter recommended a one-time 3 percent bonus. The Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee agreed on a 2 percent raise, an assumption it adopted as it began passing agency budget bills this week.
Denney said he wants a hearing in the committee with jurisdiction over state employee compensation, Commerce and Human Resources.
"We thought it was appropriate to have the discussion in the germane committee, rather than have it go strictly through the joint committee," Denney said. "I suspect we come to the same conclusion, but it should be a policy-driven decision rather than a budget decision."
House Republicans met behind closed doors Tuesday to discuss spending. Denney said some members felt left out of the conversation. "The rumblings that we had in the caucus were when we brought up the budget everybody goes, 'Hey, we haven't had our say yet.'"
Denney said he expects the committee to hear HCR 41 by next week and rejected any suggestion that JFAC should delay budget setting until the matter is resolved.
"The joint committee is up against a timeline," Denney said. "They should continue right on. And if we come up with something different, we would run a trailer bill."
Sen. Dean Cameron, R-Rupert, is co-chairman of JFAC. He said that should the House pass HCR 41, he expects in would die in the Senate Commerce and Human Resources Committee chaired by Sen. John Andreason, R-Boise, who is among the Legislature's leading advocates of better pay for state employees.
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