Tuesday, Dec. 9, 2008 | 3:58 p.m.
No state employee paying attention to the state's fiscal health was expecting a cost of living adjustment in the next two years. But now, Gov. Jim Gibbons said he plans to eliminate step increases for state workers and teachers.
The annual pay raises, which average 4.5 percent, have historically been left untouched.
Earlier in the day, Gibbons had said he plans to take pay raises off the table, including for teachers. In the last budget, state workers got 2 percent cost of living adjustment the first year and 4 percent the second.
"We fought hard to keep those in," he said.
Asked later if the governor planned to eliminate step increases this biennium, Gibbons spokesman Dan Burns said yes.
"A raise is a raise," he said.
Step, or merit, increases, happen over the first 10 years of a state worker's employment. The amount averages 4.5 percent, said Andrew Clinger, the governor's budget director.
The move would save about $160 million over a biennium, or $80 million from the general fund.
The state is facing a massive budget deficit for the 2010 and 2011 fiscal years, which the governor and legislators start working on in February.