Ritter vetoes pay-raise measure for state workers

Gov. Bill Ritter vetoed three bills Monday, including one that would have allowed automatic pay increases for state workers.

The governor said that although Colorado’s pay progression system for state workers is broken, House Bill 1409 didn’t go far enough to fix it.

Ritter said the system leaves the preponderance of state workers’ pay at the extreme ends of the pay scale.

To fix that, the bill called for returning to a 12-step system that allowed for automatic increases to employees who demonstrated improvement on the job.

“It is not clear that the best way to solve the pay-compression problem is to return to a rigid step system with 12 incremental steps in each job classification,” Ritter wrote in his veto message.

Ritter also said he was vetoing the bill because of the recession, saying the state needs flexibility to fund pay raises when it can afford it.

Pattie Johnston, president of Colorado Workers for Innovation and New Solutions, a labor union that represents most state workers, said the bill would have repaired a broken system and helped the state hire and retain good workers.

“Ritter failed to stand up for taxpayers and working families,” Johnston said. “He failed to institute a good business practice to ensure that Coloradans get the best services possible, whether it’s safe bridges and roads or care for our veterans.”

The governor did direct the Department of Personnel and Administration to develop a plan to address performance pay, promising to release it in November when he presents his budget for next year.

Ritter also vetoed a measure that would have permanently exempted local telephone systems that use voice-over-Internet technology from regulation under the Colorado Public Utilities Commission.

The technology allows consumers to place calls through a broadband Internet connection. Though there are only a handful of small companies that use it, larger ones are now starting to, as well, Ritter said.

“As this progression from land lines to VoIP occurs, Colorado cannot be left without the power to regulate such an important technology,” Ritter said in his veto message of HB1281. “The PUC must have the latitude and authority to regulate the price, quality of service and availability of VoIP in order to prevent significant harm to the consumers.”

Ritter also vetoed HB1287, a measure that would have restricted when state workers can take state-owned vehicles home and use them to commute to work.

The governor said some workers need the flexibility of keeping state-owned vehicles with them and that the bill was too restrictive.


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