CHEYENNE — Nearly two-thirds of the Wyoming Senate voted to kill an amendment allowing Gov. Mark Gordon to grant state workers hazard pay as they continue to work in the COVID-19 pandemic.
The amendment — brought by Sen. Charlie Scott, R-Casper — would have given the state’s chief executive leeway to raise the pay of any employees “at a heightened risk of being exposed to or contracting COVID-19.”
Scott said the amendment was drafted in anticipation of a second wave of coronavirus in the fall, saying the state could very well find itself overwhelmed where there was a major risk to essential employees: something he believed could be a key part of the state’s response under a set of new guidelines for federal relief funding.
“This could be an important tool for the governor,” said Scott.
However, few lawmakers seemed interested in the details of the amendment: No questions were asked prior to voting, and the motion died.
The failure of the amendment marks another hit to state employees at an already uncertain time for state government. While Gov. Mark Gordon has already called for all state agencies to identify cuts in their budgets — which could result in a number of cut programs — employees already on the payroll are anticipated to see significant increases to their health insurance premiums this summer, all but undoing any gains in wages they’ve seen over the last several years.
The Legislature — which has sought to decrease spending over the past several years — also rejected a flat, $1,000 pay increase proposed by the governor in his 2021 budget this past spring which was intended to offset those premium increases.
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