Lawmakers' freeze of salaries, bonuses is right approach

The action taken by lawmakers last week appropriately focuses on upper and middle management. Lawmakers must go deeper.

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Last week state lawmakers approved legislation extending the freeze on bonuses and salary increases for state employees, including supervisors and managers.

It's a prudent move given the state's current financial situation. Frankly, the freeze should go deeper and wider in state government. Union contracts should be revisited and reasonable concessions should be made.

The recession has forced private industry to revamp its salary structures to avoid layoffs. Owners and management have worked with employees to come up with reasonable compromises to keep businesses going and people employed.

The state must do the same. Unfortunately, the leaders of some unions that represent state employees have been unbending.

The step taken by lawmakers last week focuses on upper and middle management.

The legislation proposed by Rep. Larry Seaquist, D-Gig Harbor, suspends monetary awards and freezes salary increases until 2011. However, it still allows monetary awards to employees who come up with money-saving ideas and awards of non-monetary nature. The exceptions are wise.

So, too is the reasoning behind Seaquist's legislation. The Seattle Times reported Seaquist is concerned by what he describes as "the senior management architecture" of state government. He said the upper levels of state government have become bloated in "super grade" positions with high salaries and bonuses.

It's too bad it took this economically painful recession to awaken state legislators to this trend.

It is our hope that lawmakers will continue to track state salaries and bonuses at all levels when the economy recovers.

State employees, just like those in the private sector, should be compensated with a fair wage for the work they do. Most state employees, particularly those on the front line serving the public, earn their pay.

What we are concerned about it the bloating of state government that has been allowed to occur over the past few decades.

The effort to reduce that bloating is welcome.

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