Panel digs into state pay issue

Not only are Missouri government workers at the bottom of the nationwide list when it comes to paycheck earnings, most state employees have not had a raise in eight of the past 10 years — including the past three, a special committee studying those salaries was told Thursday.

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“I don’t know if I learned anything new,” state Rep. Mike Bernskoetter, R-Jefferson City, said after the Joint Interim Committee on State Employee Wages met Thursday. “It looked like five of the six surveys had us at 50th out of 50 (states).”

Gov. Jay Nixon has promised to include a 2 percent across-the-board pay increase in his 2012-13 budget he’ll submit to lawmakers in January — which would help a little.

But Bernskoetter acknowledged state government has a long way to go to move its employees out of last place.

“I would think that would depend on the state of the economy,” he said. “If the economy improves, hopefully when we get done with this information, we’ll have the information we need to address the rest of the (Legislature), and get them to compensate the employees (better).”

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