Barnes works toward state pay increase

One of the budget issues discussed Tuesday afternoon as the Missouri House of Representatives worked on the state budget was a state employee pay raise of $500 per employee, which Rep. Jay Barnes thinks should be higher.

Barnes, R-Jefferson City, said in an interview the increase should be 10 percent, but he knows that’s not going to happen. He said a 10 percent increase may not be fair.

“What I am saying is that $500 is disappointing,” Barnes said. “I’d like it to be more.”

Last year, the budget included a 2 percent increase for state employees making $70,000 a year and less. During the five-year period before that, there were no across-the-board raises.

Barnes, R-Jefferson City, prepared remarks for Tuesday’s budget discussion and posted them on his campaign website.

He said in terms of state employee pay, Missouri ranks last out of all states. He believes state employees are being asked to do more, but not being compensated accordingly.

“We don’t need and in fact should not be one of the nation’s top-paying states because our cost of living just isn’t that high,” Barnes wrote. “But we shouldn’t be ranked below Mississippi, Arkansas, Kansas and every other state in the country.

“We should be closer to where we are in national cost-of-living standards.”

Missouri has the 10th lowest cost of living in the United States, according to Missouri Economic Research and Information Center’s 2012 fourth quarter report.

Barnes said the budget the House is working on is keeping the state moving forward.

“One-quarter glass of water is much better than no water at all,” he wrote. “On behalf of 5,000 plus state employees who I represent, I thank the Budget Committee for this quarter glass.

“But it’s my great hope that we can build on this in this budget and in future years to get state employee pay out of the national cellar.”

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