Bozeman legislator and 2012 US House candidate Franke Wilmer says the Treasure State Politics blog got it wrong, and that there was no conflict of interest at all when she voted in support of an increase in the state pay plan. Why? Wilmer says she is a university system employee, and doesn’t fall under the state pay plan.
Here’s more from Rep. Wilmer (D-Bozeman):
The Board of Regents authorizes any raises that go to faculty and they generally do that as a “raise pool” that is then distributed by the units (universities, colleges, departments) according to the units’ own policies. The Regents may parallel the pay plan, may give higher raises, or none at all.
In 20 years at MSU I recall years when faculty got raises and broad band employees (under the pay plan) did not, and vice versa. During the time I’ve been at MSU including 4 years as a Department Head, we have always used a merit formula to distribute the raise pool. The amount in the pool may be determined as (again for example) 2% of all payroll. So in my department we would get a pool that is 2% of the total payroll for faculty in our department. But since it is distributed based on merit (performance) this means some faculty may get 0% raise and others may get 3% raise if the second has been evaluated for performance and merit at a very high level and the former at a lower level.
The point is that university faculty are not covered by the pay plan and so I did not vote myself a raise. But along those lines, why shouldn’t businessmen who benefit from eliminating or reducing the business equipment tax disclose a conflict of interest? What about ranchers who benefit from livestock depredation compensation? What about those who benefit from one particular property appraisal scheme that gives ag property a lower rate than residential? I mean there are all kinds of potential conflicts in a CITIZEN legislature. No one earns a full-time living in the legislature so everyone has a “day job.”
The author’s of the TSP post added in response: “As the head of her department, she could potentially not receive a pay hike. However, the exact amount of money necessary to give her a 1 and 3 percent pay raise would have been appropriated in HB13.”
As a side note- I am looking forward to having Rep. Wilmer as a guest on Voices of Montana Wednesday May 4th. We will be discussing her bid for Congress.
The conservative Treasure State Politics blog wonders whether legislative Democrats, who also work as state employees, violated state law by failing to disclose the fact that they would personally benefit from a proposed state employee pay raise.
Not once during the thirty-minute debate did a single one of these six Democrats rise on a point of personal privilege to disclose that they stood to benefit from passage of the state pay plan. In fact, only after cloture, when the chair of the Ethics Committee rose on a point of order to remind the body of the rules, did the sponsor admit she’s worked for the state for almost a decade.
Also of note was long-shot U.S. Congressional candidate, Rep. Franke Wilmer. Not satisfied with the $81k in taxpayer dollars she rakes in every year, Wilmer tried to claim just before the vote that not everyone stood to directly benefit from the pay hike.
So, just who were the legislators voting to increase their own salaries? TSP has the whole list which you can find by clicking here.