Amendment to limit state worker bonuses defeated

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) –The Virginia General Assembly unanimously struck down an amendment Monday proposed by Governor Bob McDonnell that would have made a three percent bonus to state workers contingent on government agency savings, not excess state revenues.

The measure was defeated in a 95-0 vote.

In December, the governor announced a budget proposal that would have linked bonuses to a state agency’s ability to save one and a half times the amount it would have cost to pay the bonuses.

The governor defended his proposal again on Monday, arguing it would serve as an incentive to state agencies to avoid excessive spending and government waste.

“The whole idea was to be able to create a performance bonus for state employees, and that is to stop the spending sprees’ that take place oftentimes at state and federal levels and the end of the year,” said McDonnell.

Last month, the General Assembly rejected the governor’s proposal and passed a budget instead, that linked the one-time three percent  bonus to surplus revenues.

Despite an attempt by the governor earlier this month to amend the budget to mirror his original proposal, state lawmakers, including Delegate Jennifer McClellan, voted the amendment down.  McClellan argued it was unfair and impractical in today’s economic environment.

“They haven’t really gotten pay raises that they deserve, and this is our way of saying thanks for the job you’ve done,” said McClellan.

The governor can still eliminate state employee bonuses by using his line item veto powers.