Hoeven, Dalrymple take cut
BISMARCK -- Gov. John Hoeven and Lt. Gov. Jack Dalrymple's pay will be cut by 2 percent on Tuesday, when the state's new fiscal year starts. Hoeven's drops from $87,216 to $85,506 and Dalrymple's goes from $67,708 to $66,380. The two men said Fri...
BISMARCK -- Gov. John Hoeven and Lt. Gov. Jack Dalrymple's pay will be cut by 2 percent on Tuesday, when the state's new fiscal year starts.
Hoeven's drops from $87,216 to $85,506 and Dalrymple's goes from $67,708 to $66,380.
The two men said Friday they also turned back pay increases they were scheduled to receive a year ago.
The pay cuts were in Hoeven's December budget recommendations to the Legislature, which subsequently approved the cut.
But the decreases are buried in fiscal analysis fine print and some lawmakers, even those on Appropriations committees, didn't know what Hoeven had done.
"I don't recall it in the budget discussion," said Sen. Tim Mathern, D-Fargo, who serves on Senate Appropriations.
"I think they (Hoeven and Dalrymple) did that very, very quietly," said Senate Appropriations Chairman Sen. Ray Holmberg, R-Grand Forks.
That was the plan, Hoeven said when interviewed Friday about it. "I didn't talk about it then (last year) and I didn't intend to talk about it now."
Even eagle-eyed Capitol watchdogs didn't notice.
"Wow!" exclaimed Chris Runge of the North Dakota Public Employees' Association when she heard of it on Friday.
"It certainly wasn't talked about during the session," she said. "I'm pleasantly surprised."
Runge tracks bills and does lobbying full time during the Legislature on behalf of state employees.
She called the pay cuts "admirable," especially considering what happened to state employees in the 2003 session.
The Legislature stripped Hoeven's proposed 1-percent and 2-percent pay raises for state employees from spending bills early in the session. Lawmakers later decided that if the number of state employees is reduced by 176, a 1 percent raise can be given in February 2004 and a 2 percent raise the following year.
The governor and lieutenant governor said budget cuts prompted their decisions.
First, they turned back raises a year ago, when Hoeven ordered spending cuts known as "allotments." Then, when the governor asked all state agencies to submit 2003-05 budgets at 95 percent of their 2001-03 budgets, he and Dalrymple decided to cut their pay.
"I was asking agencies to do 95 percent budgets and I thought it was appropriate," Hoeven said. "I wasn't out talking about it. I just did it."
Dalrymple said he didn't have to be convinced to return last year's raises or go along with the cut for this year because, "I felt the same as John. It's not right to take it" because of "what happened to my fellow workers -- public employees."
When Hoeven and Dalrymple turned back raises they were scheduled to get last year, it effectively meant that their pay never went up to $87,216 and $67,708, they said -- though state budget analysis lists that as their pay level.
Mathern said it's more important for Dalrymple and Hoeven to work for better raises for low-paid state employees.
Declining raises is "fine if they want to do that," Mathern said.
But he added that it's not unusual for "most people who have more resources than they need" to return pay increases.
That comment is a reference to Hoeven and Dalrymple's wealth. Hoeven and his family own a Minot bank and Dalrymple is the scion of a Casselton bonanza farmer.
"For low-income people, what they need is money in the bank," Mathern said. "The laudable thing is working for just wages and that's what's needed."
Readers can reach Forum reporter Janell Cole at (701) 224-0830