Bozeman — Despite a two-year pay freeze, average state employee salaries and benefits have increased faster than the rate of inflation since 2004.
This and other findings are available in a new website, opengovmt.org, created by the Bozeman-based nonprofit Montana Policy Institute.
Pay data in the website was handed over by the state following a long legal battle and provides individual pay information for all state employees along with summary statistics in a variety of areas, including employee demographics, average compensation values, union membership, and funding sources.
According to MPI president Carl Graham, site users can review salary information for employees based on name, location, department, and many other criteria.
“The site is nonjudgmental about whether the numbers are too high, too low, or just right” said Graham. “But it does put the lie to recent statements that state employee pay has been frozen.”
According to site data, the real (after inflation) average increase in compensation was nearly 11 percent between 2004 and 2011, with the largest increases going to those making over $75,000 per year.
Compensation is likely to be a hot issue for the 2013 Legislature after it failed to ratify a pay raise for state workers in 2011. Lawmakers will be expected to vote on a recently announced 5 percent increase negotiated between public employee unions and the Schweitzer administration.
“This type of data should place everybody on an equal footing” added Graham. “Legislators and taxpayers have a right to know what their employees are paid, and that information simply was not available until now.”
Following nearly two years of open records request refusals by the state, MPI recently won a lawsuit demanding actual pay data for each state employee. That data is now available to the public at no cost on the opengovmt.org transparency portal along with detailed school revenue and spending information.
Montana Policy Institute
For July 11th, 2012 Release
For an interview with Montana Policy Institute’s Carl Graham call (406) 219-0508 or email email@example.com.
The Montana Policy Institute is a nonprofit, nonpartisan policy research center based in Bozeman. To find out more visit us on the web at www.montanapolicy.org or contact us at 406-219-0508.