Gov. Eric Greitens said Monday that every state worker making less than $50,000 a year will receive an increase in pay of $650 annually.
Greitens made the remarks Tuesday during a news conference in his office, where he outlined his proposal for Missouri's Fiscal Year 2019 budget. Missouri State Budget Director Dan Haug said, though, that about 90 positions will be cut statewide in the upcoming fiscal year.
Greitens proposal sets aside $29.4 million to fund the pay raise for state workers. In his State of the State address Jan. 9, Greitens called on the state to create a smaller, leaner government; saying this will make the state better able to serve Missouri residents.
Accordingly, Greitens conditioned the pay increase for state employees on "civil service reform" before the money becomes available.
"We're confident we can get that passed," Greitens said. "We've talked with a lot of members of the House and Senate. So they will see that increase in pay."
Greitens added his budget proposal fully funds the primary pension system for state workers, with $14.4 million set aside to fund that program. An additional $61.2 million in new funding for state employee health care benefits will also be set aside, he said.
With an average pay of $37,476 annually, pay for state workers in Missouri ranks last in the nation, according to a 2016 report by the Missouri General Assembly's Joint Interim Committee on State Employee Wages. The committee commissioned the report to compare salary and benefits for Missouri government workers to those in other states.
That report found base salaries for average workers is about 10 percent below recommended levels.
Greitens said his budget proposal also leaves earmarks of $4.5 million for pay raises to be given to other state workers within Missouri government, including those making more than $50,000 annually. The state will make these pay increases to make the Missouri more competitive with competing states and fields, Greitens said.
"We want to see those pay adjustments to make sure that Missouri is offering a competitive wage for those positions," Greitens said.
Also, Haug said that in Fiscal Year 2018 they budgeted to employ 54,567 people. The governor's recommended budget for Fiscal Year 2019 projects the state employing 54,476 people.
Greitens' proposed budget calls for approximately $70 million in higher education cuts to University of Missouri System. Haug said most of the 91 jobs cut under the governor's proposed budget will come from open positions that will be eliminated.
Leading up to the State of the State address, area lawmakers said they hoped the governor would lead an effort to raise the wages of state workers.
"It's something that's been being worked on for a long time and, as you know, for the last several years it's been a little piece here and a little piece there," State Sen. Mike Kehoe, R-Jefferson City, said at the time. "I hope the governor is ready to embrace a more comprehensive strategy."