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Our Opinion: State honors public workers, threatens pay boost

Our Opinion: State honors public workers, threatens pay boost

May 8th, 2018 by News Tribune in Opinion

We're pleased to see some of our standout state workers being recognized for their hard work.

On Thursday, we reported Gov. Eric Greitens honored about three dozen state employees Wednesday evening at the Governor's Mansion in Jefferson City.

The event honored Missouri State Employees of the Month from August 2016 through April 2018 as well as recipients of the Missouri State Employee Award of Distinction — a total of 38 state employees.

The honorees were treated to a barbecue on the Governor's Mansion lawn.

Jefferson City is home to about 14,000 state workers, and many of those routinely go above and beyond the call of duty.

One of those honored was Terry Traynor, a Missouri Department of Corrections maintenance supervisor, who won the award of distinction for his heroism as he helped rescue a neighbor from a burning house. He was given the Missouri State Employee Award of Distinction, which honors employees who show exceptional performance in areas like heroism, human relations, innovation, leadership and public service.

Despite the experience, loyalty and dedication of many state workers, Missouri continues to rank last in the nation for paying its public workforce.

Gov. Eric Greitens' proposed budget included a $650 raise for state workers earning less than $50,000. That would cover the majority of state workers, whose average yearly salary is $37,476.

But a Greitens spokesman recently told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch the governor will sign off on the pay raises only if the legislature approves an overhaul to the Merit System, which dictates the state's hiring, promoting and firing processes.

Also, some lawmakers are considering delaying the raises by six months, effectively cutting them in half for the upcoming year.

The budget must be finished by 6 p.m. Friday.

In this final rush to approve the state budget, we hope lawmakers and the governor will give state workers their small pay raise — essentially a cost-of-living raise — without delaying it and without tying it to other legislation.