Lawmakers agree on 1 percent raise for state employees

Most state employees can expect to see a 1 percent raise in next year’s paychecks, not the 3 percent Gov. Jay Nixon proposed in his State of the State address three months ago.

The Senate’s Appropriations Committee on Monday agreed with the House, which passed its version of the budget last month with only a 1 percent, across-the-board raise.

Part of the issue is Nixon’s more optimistic estimate of what income the state will get between July 1 this year and June 30, 2015.

Chairman Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, told reporters after the Monday afternoon hearing: “With the governor building in a lot of things, including Medicaid expansion, he lit this budget up like a Christmas tree.

“So what we had to do was go back and see, what really can be funded and what really was just a Christmas present that was put out there as an inducement to do Medicaid expansion?”

Sen. Mike Kehoe, R-Jefferson City, also serves on the Appropriations Committee.

“Since I’ve been here, we’ve been able to give a little something each year,” he told the News Tribune, adding a 1 percent increase is better than the $500 a year raise state workers received only a couple years ago.

Schaefer said the governor’s proposed budget included about $300 million in general revenue income “that clearly is never going to be there; I think it’s important that we appropriate from what we know will be available.”

The Senate committee Monday also agreed with the House on sending more than $4.715 million to Linn State Technical College and budgeting a nearly $18 million state appropriation for Lincoln University.

But the Senate decided to disagree with the House plan increasing the state’s match to LU’s federal land grant budget by $500,000.

“The governor had zero,” Schaefer reminded the committee, recommending that the Senate agree with Nixon’s idea. “We can go to conference with the House on an amount between $0 and $500,000.”

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