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Our Opinion: Proposed state pay raises a good start

Our Opinion: Proposed state pay raises a good start

January 22nd, 2019 in Opinion

We’re pleased to see that Gov. Mike Parson has included raises for state workers in his proposed state budget.

For years, giving state raises, even cost-of-living raises, has been an afterthought at the Capitol. There were many years in which state workers received no raise.

Last week, we reported Parson is asking lawmakers to approve 3 percent across-the-board raises that would start Jan. 1, 2020.

His budget will also include:

• $8.2 million to add to salaries for workers in the Department of Corrections, which equates to a 1 percent raise for every two years of continuous service with the department.

• Additional funds to adjust the salaries of about 4,000 state employees so they can earn the “market minimums” for their jobs, when compared with other states and private businesses that have similar kinds of work.

In his State of the State address, Parson said the state workforce, overwhelmingly is “remarkable and dedicated.”

Surveys have shown Missouri’s public workers are paid the lowest of the 50 states. Often, when state workers do get raises, they’re wiped out by increased health-care premiums.

Under the pay play, most state employees would receive a 3 percent across-the-board pay raises. Inflation is around 2 percent, so that’s not much more than cost-of-living raises.

With a good economy and low unemployment, state officials are starting to realize, in order to keep its quality employees, it needs to offer competitive pay.

State employees used to be more content to work for lower salaries because the state had a stellar benefits package. It still does compared to many employers, but the benefits have eroded somewhat over recent years.

Parson’s state worker pay plan won’t put Missouri on par with other states. However, it will give employees something, while stemming the loss of quality workers.

News Tribune