Pay raises given to more agency directors


Gov. Jay Inslee granted pay increases to three more state agency directors Feb. 1, bringing to nine the number of cabinet agency leaders who received raises in the past six months.

Increases in the 2 to 3 percent range went to Maia Bellon at Ecology, Joel Sacks at Labor and Industries and Carol Nelson at Revenue.

Bret Daugherty, adjutant general of the Military Department also received a 1 percent raise on Jan. 1, but his pay is set by statute.

The pay changes for Bellon, Sacks and Nelson follow increases of up to 4 percent given to five agency leaders this past September. All are part of an ongoing effort to make pay fairer across state agencies, Inslee spokesman David Postman said.

Inslee also established higher starting pay for several new hires last year, placing them as much as 17 percent above their predecessors. The governor has now adjusted pay levels for more than half of his 25-member executive cabinet.

“We continue to review and adjust (pay),” Postman said. “These are all large agencies and some cabinet officers have taken on additional roles with Results Washington. We continue to address any inequity we see broadly across the board with the Cabinet.”

Results Washington is Inslee’s government efficiency effort that uses popular “Lean” management techniques to reduce waste and improve performance of agencies. The staffers getting raises are also leaders in that Lean effort, Postman said.

Greg Devereux, executive director of the Washington Federation of State Employees, said the latest raises did not seem high. “It seems he’s trying to keep his team and keep them at market rates,” Devereux said.

Devereux also said that if Inslee “is looking fairly at pay, he’s going to do that in our negotiations next summer, too. If we get to negotiations and he says there is no money, we’ll raise holy hell.”

Most state employees saw their last cost-of-living adjustment in pay back in 2008. Pay was cut for most agency workers by 3 percent in July 2011. New contracts took effect last July, and pay was restored to the higher 2011 levels. About a third of workers also saw “step” pay increases of 2.5 percent under the contracts.

State employees are hoping to see pay additional raises of 1 percent in July. Contracts for the 2013-15 budget cycle call for a 1 percent increase, but that depends on state revenues hitting certain targets.

Devereux said he will be surprised if next Wednesday’s quarterly forecast comes in high enough to trigger the increase.

The pay adjustments for agency leaders have come during a legislative session in which Inslee is proposing a 1.3 percent cost-of-living adjustment for teachers and other public school employees, who saw their last inflation-based pay adjustment in 2008. Some teachers also get yearly increases based on experience and education.

 

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