In Central Missouri, we have family, friends and neighbors who are state employees and retired state employees. We work hard to give quality service to Missourians. We're proud of our work. We most want a decent wage, respect and appreciation.
However, pay for Missouri's state employees is ranked as the nation's lowest. Recent news reports indicate yet again there will be no salary increase next year. The state's retirement benefits provide some incentive to keep working despite low salaries, hoping there will eventually be an offset. Last year, turnover was 18 percent in state executive branch agencies. More than one-third of state workers are now covered by the 2011 lower retirement benefit plan.
I agree with our governor — we want the best and brightest working for our state. Taxpayers fund state government, and we deserve great service and the best bang for our buck. In Central Missouri, about $960 million annually is injected into the local economy through payroll for current employees and retirement benefits. There is no factory or business we could bring to the area to match this economic impact.
Last week, the House Appropriations Committee didn't fund the actuarially required increase for Mosers, thus jeopardizing our pensions and the state's AAA bond rating. This week another bill was debated to cut retirement benefits for future hires. Other bills have been filed to reduce pensions for current retirees.
The lack of a serious pay plan and cutting benefits destroys the competent workforce we need and drives individuals away. Our local economy and the business of public service and state government will suffer immensely. These measures are neither cost-effective for state government nor good for our communities.
As director of the Association of Active and Retired Missouri State Employees (armse.org), we're greatly worried about state salaries and pensions. Please call state legislators, write letters, send emails, or visit them in the Capitol or in their districts to express our concerns and ask them to protect the salaries and pensions we've earned.
Our silence represents acceptance. Without our involvement, we can expect that state employee pensions and salaries will continue to be squeezed and reduced. We deserve better. We've earned more. Please join us, and speak up.
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