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BOISE -- About 17,000 Idaho government employees are a step closer to getting a 2 percent raise in fiscal year 2015.

The Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee voted Wednesday to build $11 million more into state worker pay starting next July.

Gov. C.L. Butch Otter didn't recommend the raises.

But Republican Sen. Dean Cameron of Rupert said the timing was right to direct more money to government salaries for the first time since 2012.

Cameron says the budget panel is simply following recommendations of an employee pay committee.

It met earlier this year and concluded the recovering economy was kicking off enough state revenue for some long-overdue raises.

The money will be paid out on merit, so it's possible not everybody will get a bump.

Additionally, only half the pay raise will be ongoing.

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