Efficiency incentives was smart item advanced by Gov. Burgum

Now that appropriations committees in Bismarck have agreed on the level of state employee raises for the next two-year budget cycle, taxpayers can compare the final agreement with the proposal offered by Gov. Doug Burgum.

After no increase in this budget cycle, budget writers say employees should expect a 2 percent raise in the first year, with a minimum of $120 monthly and a maximum of $200.

In the second year of the budget cycle, employees would see a proposed 2.5 percent increase. The increase is expected to cost about $84.4 million in the 2019-21 biennium.

Burgum on the other hand had proposed more generous pay increases, with an incentive plan included. Burgum’s proposal was for 4 percent raises in the first year of the budget cycle and 2 percent in the second, with a potential for an additional 2 percent if agencies meet efficiency goals.

When he was campaigning, Burgum would often discuss the need to incorporate some practices from the private sector into the state government, particularly in terms of operations and efficiency. Incentives are generally more common in the private sector than the public sector, and this appears to have been Burgum’s effort to adapt practices.

Financial incentives can be strong motivation.

While it might be too late for the state to reconsider the potential use of incentivizing efficiency this session, it is certainly something future legislatures should have open talks about. Perhaps there are even other ways to utilize incentives to prompt efficiency.

It’s at least worth a broad discussion.