Wyoming digest

Dec 2, 2013 The Associated Press

Governor proposes pay raises

CHEYENNE -- Gov. Matt Mead is pushing to give Wyoming state workers a pay raise.

Mead on Friday unveiled his state budget recommendations for the coming two-year budget cycle. He addressed reporters by phone from the Middle East, where he and first lady Carol Mead spent Thanksgiving visiting with troops from Wyoming.

"The fact of the matter is that we're seeing increased turnover for state employees and the base salary has gone down for state employees. Not much, but a little bit," Mead said. "And then you add to that what we did with retirement last session and what may be proposed this session, and you see that the state employees are dropping backward."

State employees got their last cost-of-living increase in 2009, while their required retirement contributions have gone up since then. A recent state report found the average salary of state executive branch employees had declined from $50,628 in 2011 to $50,448 in 2012.

Mead's proposed $3.3 billion general fund budget calls for roughly $88 million for employee pay raises. Of that amount, he's calling for roughly $49 million for state employees and $38.5 million from school funds for raises in the education system.

Mead's budget proposes a 2.5 percent increase in salary for state employees and workers at the University of Wyoming in 2014 and again in 2015. He said he wants to tie some of the additional salary money to employee evaluations so the state can reward exceptional performers with merit pay increases.

The governor proposes to hike salary about 2 percent for community college employees and workers in K-12 education.

Laramie sues paper over records

LARAMIE -- The Laramie Boomerang is awaiting word from a judge whether it should have access to the resume of a former mayor. The newspaper reports that the city is suing the newspaper to block the paper's access to the resume of former Mayor Jodi Guerin. Guerin is now the city's recreation manager. She's also co-owner of Coal Creek Coffee Co.

The city filed suit in August, requesting declaratory judgment to consider Guerin's applications materials exempt from public disclosure. The newspaper and City Council member Joe Vitale argue that Guerin's qualifications for the recreational manager job are a legitimate public interest because the salary is taxpayer money. Guerin beat out 72 other applicants for the job.

Rig count up by one in state

HOUSTON -- Oilfield services company Baker Hughes Inc. says the number of rigs exploring for oil and natural gas in the U.S. increased by two this week to 1,763.

The Houston-based company said in its weekly report Wednesday that 1,391 rigs were exploring for oil and 367 for gas. Five were listed as miscellaneous. A year ago there were 1,811 rigs.

Of the major oil- and gas-producing states, Oklahoma and Texas each gained three rigs, Kansas and Louisiana gained two each and North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wyoming one apiece.

West Virginia, meanwhile, lost three rigs, California lost two and Alaska, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah lost one apiece. Arkansas' count was unchanged.

The U.S. rig count peaked at 4,530 in 1981 and bottomed at 488 in 1999.

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