BOISE -- Idaho public employees are pressing lawmakers for better working conditions and more competitive wages.
Dozens of state workers made emotional appeals at the Capitol Monday during a two-hour listening session organized by Democrats.
“Clearly, just the level of wage is something that is problematic and we heard from so many of them that there is not a career path,” said Democratic Representative from Moscow Shirley Ringo.
Many workers who testified complained they've only received minimal raises during their tenures with various state agencies and departments.
“I don’t know how we can justify cutting the salaries of these teachers?” asked retired professor Gwen Smith.
“There is no money. We are living paycheck to paycheck,” testified, state employee Janet French.
But low salaries aren't the only concerns.
Employees from law enforcement, the Idaho Transportation Department and educators said there are too few opportunities for career advancement.
Others noted training programs have diminished.
In response to economic downturn in 2008, many state agencies implemented furloughs and layoffs.
Lawmakers approved a 2 percent merit raise to state employees in 2012, but data shows the average hourly pay for Idaho state workers is still 10.7 percent below eight surrounding states.