After a year of public employees going above and beyond to keep North Dakota safe and served during the COVID-19 pandemic, legislative leaders are preparing a salary increase that fails to recognize that the state’s public employee pay already lags that of their counterparts in the private sector. Just one week ago, Moody’s sunny budget forecast projected $1.1 billion more state revenue than expected. The legislative plan even comes short of the governor’s initial proposal made under a more ominous revenue forecast.
North Dakota public employees already make at least 7% less on average than their counterparts in the private sector, according to a report from 2011. Public health, public safety, and medical fields showed gaps of 10% less than the private sector. Public employees did not even receive a cost-of-living increase in 2017 and 2018. North Dakota leaders have also recently touted the state’s vaccination program, led by public employees, as among the most efficient in the nation.
North Dakota United President Nick Archuleta said:
“The plan discussed this week falls far short of the 3% raise public employees have earned by stepping up in a pandemic and serving us every day whether we are in a crisis or not. The most recent budget forecast shows North Dakota has a much brighter revenue outlook than earlier budget forecasts have shown. In our view, that means that the legislature must target spending carefully, but judiciously. A 3% increase for public employees would not only be a reward for dedicated service during a crisis, but it would also mean investing in those who provide the vital public services that North Dakotans deserve, and in making our state more competitive in the marketplace.”