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Montana News
Montana politics, elections and legislative news.

Gianforte Backs Pay Raises For State Employees

Montana Capitol building.
Nick Mott
/
Montana Public Radio

Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte has put his support behind a proposal to raise state employee pay by 55 cents an hour in 2023.

Rep. Julie Dooling, a Republican from Helena, introduced the bill in the House Appropriations Committee Wednesday, and said it will also be included in Gianforte’s proposed budget for the next biennium.

The bill was negotiated by labor unions and the executive branch. It would allocate pay raises for roughly 11,000 state employees.

Gianforte is set to release his proposed budget Thursday. His budget director, Kurt Alme, spoke in support of Dooling’s bill. He said the administration backs the pay raises because they won’t go into effect until 2023, after the state and businesses have time to recover from economic losses caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

“We’re confident that all of us who call ourselves Montanans, whether we work in the private sector, the nonprofit sector, or for federal, state or local government can together pull our state past these challenges we’ve been facing," Alme said.

According to the bill’s fiscal note, the pay raises would cost the state’s general fund about $11.5 million a year in 2024 and in 2025.

Republican Rep. Frank Garner asked whether Gianforte’s proposed budget would suggest finding ways to raise state revenue to pay for the increases. A representative from the governor’s budget office answered that the proposal will be available Thursday.

Gianforte campaigned on reducing taxes for Montana residents and "holding the line on state spending."

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