Front facade of the Montana State Capitol building, showcasing its neoclassical architecture with ornate detailing, large pillars, and the word 'MONTANA' engraved above the entrance, set against a cloudy sky.
The Capitol building in Helena, photographed Thursday, Jan. 26, 2023. Credit: Samuel Wilson / Bozeman Daily Chronicle

Gov. Greg Gianforte signed the bill that implements the state’s 2024-2025 employee pay plan this week, authorizing raises and bonuses for the state workforce over the next two years.

The pay plan calls for either $1.50-an-hour or 4% raises, whichever is greater, for state and Montana University System employees this year and next, effective July 1 of each year. Employees will also receive a one-time bonus, $1,040 for full-time workers and lesser amounts for part-time workers.

The plan also raises the state’s per-diem meal rates by 10% and holds employee out-of-pocket health benefit contributions, copay amounts, deductibles and coinsurance costs constant through 2025.

A fiscal analysis prepared by the governor’s budget office estimates each round of raises will raise the state’s payroll costs by roughly $50 million a year. The one-time bonuses will cost an estimated $16.9 million.

The pay plan, which was negotiated between the governor and public employees’ unions and announced in concept last fall, passed through the Legislature without substantive changes. Its implementation measure, House Bill 13, passed the House, 89-7, and the Senate, 48-1, winning bipartisan support in both chambers. The governor signed the bill, which was sponsored by Rep. John Fitzpatrick, R-Anaconda, April 11.

Both the governor and Montana Federation of Public Employees, the state’s largest public union, celebrated the bill’s passage in statements provided to Montana Free Press Friday.

“As Montanans and all Americans face higher prices and historic inflation, this package will help ensure we retain and recruit highly qualified, dedicated public employees to serve Montanans,” Gianforte said in an email sent to state employees following the bill signing.

MFPE President Amanda Curtis touted the “hard work” necessary to get the raises approved. 

“Our bargaining team, with members from across state government and higher education, spent months negotiating in good faith with Governor Gianforte to reach an agreement,” Curtis said. “This session, thousands of MFPE members contacted their legislators to win its legislative approval.”

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Eric came to journalism in a roundabout way after studying engineering at Montana State University in Bozeman (credit, or blame, for his career direction rests with the campus's student newspaper, the Exponent). He has worked as a professional journalist in Montana since 2013, with stints at the Great Falls Tribune, Bozeman Daily Chronicle, and Solutions Journalism Network before joining the Montana Free Press newsroom in Helena full time in 2019.