Comparisons with neighbors reflect disparity in state pay

Renewed salary study committee faces bigger task

Some state employees take a lunch break in the Truman State Office Building cafeteria in Jefferson City. Missouri government employees are the lowest-paid in the nation, and a joint legislative committee will continue its work from last year, looking at employees’ total compensation and ways to improve the pay and benefits situation for state employees.

Some state employees take a lunch break in the Truman State Office Building cafeteria in Jefferson City. Missouri government employees are the lowest-paid in the nation, and a joint legislative committee will continue its work from last year, looking at employees’ total compensation and ways to improve the pay and benefits situation for state employees. Photo by News Tribune.

Missouri’s Joint Committee on State Employee Wages now has a larger task in the next 2 1/2 years than it had last year, when its charge just was to determine if state government’s employees really are the lowest-paid in the nation and to recommend ways to improve that condition.

During this year’s debate on both the state budget and on Rep. Mike Bernskoetter’s resolution to continue the joint committee, some lawmakers said they thought a total compensation study would show Missouri government workers are not at the bottom of all states in their earnings and benefits. But other lawmakers said during this spring’s debates that you can’t spend benefits at the grocery store.

Last year, the Office of Administration provided committee members with some detailed reports showing a history of pay plans in the state, and how different kinds of raises — or lack of raises — have contributed to a “compression” problem where, in some cases, newer employees make as much or more as the longer-serving employees who trained them.

For this story, we asked OA for some comparisons they had made between Missouri and five of our eight neighboring states, of some jobs that would be common to all states. We also asked for the information at the entry-level, where a worker’s longevity of service wouldn’t be a factor.

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