Wages are still low
I am writing to correct an error in the AP story, "Workers ask for better pay, work conditions," in the Feb. 19 newspaper. The story said "... they've (state workers) received only minimal raises during their tenures with various state agencies - much like workers in the private sector." Every study and report submitted to the Legislature this year shows that state workers' pay is more than 18 percent below comparable work in the private sector, so in reality, this is much unlike workers in the private sector.
People often think the state worker's benefit package outweighs the pay discrepancy, but these reports show that 18 percent discrepancy even when factoring in benefits.
The story noted that Idaho state worker pay is more than 10 percent below that of state workers in eight surrounding states. It noted that there was a 2 percent raise in 2012, but said it was a "merit" raise, which it was not. The story also neglected to mention that, because of the end of the payroll tax holiday and raises in cost of health insurance, that 2 percent raise has been completely absorbed and state employees' take-home pay is now less than it was before the 2012 raise.
DONNA YULE, Executive Director, Idaho Public Employees Association, Boise
Note to all Idaho state workers and any other civil servants: You who are whining about needing a pay raise, try living on the tentative status of unemployment where there is NO pay raise; where the hardest job to have is looking for a job. Lots of Idahoans would be happy to have your job as is with benefits. Just putting it in perspective from one who has lived the unemployment gig. Thankful for my temporary job right now. I just say, "Get a grip, not a gripe."
YVONNE GLINES, Meridian
Corporate profits up; customer rates double
I read with interest the story about Idaho Power, stopping the A/C credit rewards for those of us who cut back so they can rely on their power plants for energy. Idaho Power is claiming it is cheaper to use the power plants than to give its customers a break. Yet the power plants are in the news for their use of coal and such.
I also read that net income for the utility's fourth-quarter profits were up 83 percent compared to last year. Net income of $16.5 million up from $9 million. So I am wondering are they going to raise their retirement plan, are the officials looking for a raise?
We are stuck with one power company, my rates have doubled and my day-to-day living has been the same for the last 15 years. I am afraid my rates will go up once more, and like everyone else, work just to pay the power bill. Something is wrong here.
JACOB FRANZEN, Meridian
Give people a choice
Is electricity something I can do without? Can I choose where to buy it? What does "good" electricity look like? Maybe it's cheaper or more reliable. Maybe it creates local jobs, reduces reliance on outsiders, or preserves the environment. These questions rarely come to mind because we have always lived under the rule of a power monopoly. You need it. They have it. Pay up.
But this year the tables are turning. Solar is now cheap. A typical panel costs $200 and will collect over $600 in electricity in Idaho during its lifetime. Idaho Power is worried that people might want a choice so they are trying to kill net metering. They would single you out for installing solar on your home or office. And make you pay.
In fact, they want their customers to pay so much, that even if someone gave you a solar power system for free, it could be cheaper not to switch it on. Additionally, they want to introduce substantial new fees in lieu of equitable rate charges. Will this stop here or will they eventually decide everyone needs to pay more?
Idaho Power wants your power future. We should have that choice.
KELLEY DAGLEY, Boise
Filled car with gas in ... Cottonwood, about 200 miles north of Boise. $3.29 per gallon. Filled up again when we got to Boise. $3.56 per gallon. Go figure.
TOM BECKMAN, Boise