Democratic-NPL Lawmakers Propose Salary Increases for State Employees

BISMARCK, N.D. – Democratic-NPL legislators unveiled their proposal to provide state employees with raises during the 2021-2023 biennium.

Sen. Tim Mathern (D-Fargo) unveiled the proposal, which provides a 3 percent increase each year of the biennium. “We’ve taken the governor’s proposal and improved upon it. We’ve kept the governor’s proposals on health insurance and retirement contributions intact. All we are asking is that we go a little further and do what is necessary to invest in our workforce.”

The plan also calls for a minimum increase of $120 per month for employees making less than $48,000 and a $300 per month cap on those making more than $120,000. By contrast, the governor’s proposal is limited to 2 percent each year, with no minimums or caps.

“We have the money,” Sen. Mathern said. “There’s no reason why we can’t pay our employees a reasonable wage.”

Of the proposal, Sen. Erin Oban (D-Bismarck), highlighted the important role of the state workforce in keeping things running smoothly. “This was especially true in 2020. When the pandemic hit our employees suddenly faced an unprecedented situation. From working long hours to develop our state’s COVID-19 response to providing essential services to the public from shuttered offices they kept the state running.”

Historically, state pay increases have not kept up with the private sector, leading many employees to leave the state for better opportunities. “This trend cannot continue,” Senator Oban continued.

Education services were hit equally hard. Colleges found their campuses empty and professors had to quickly shift to virtual classrooms. Of these challenges, Assistant Minority Leader Alisa Mitskog (D-Wahpeton) said, “During the pandemic, our education professionals’ workload increased significantly, they stepped up to the challenge and delivered. We need to listen to our higher education officials so North Dakota pay remains competitive.”