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Our Opinion: A Christmas miracle for state employees?

December 8, 2021 at 4:00 a.m.

Finally, some love for state employees by the boss. And just in time for Christmas.

Not that Gov. Mike Parson hasn't shown appreciation for state employees previously. He has. Among other things, he's taken many opportunities to boast of their accomplishments and he's given them days off work.

He's also pushed for increased pay for them. But this time it's different. His support for state employees is on a new level. And it's overdue.

The governor on Monday proposed setting a $15-per-hour minimum wage among state employees and giving them an across-the-board 5.5 percent cost of living raise.

He plans to include funding for his recommendations in his budget proposal, which will be introduced at the state of the next legislative session in January.

Parson wants the Legislature to fund the raises early so they can take effect Feb. 1, 2022, less than a month into the session.

Why is it needed? It's no longer just a matter of paying people what they're worth. Since the pandemic, keeping jobs filled has been difficult for employers everywhere. And since the state has remained around the bottom of the barrel compared to other states' employee salaries, the problem has been exacerbated among our state workforce.

"With many positions across state government facing turnover rates anywhere from 10-100 percent and vacancy rates from 30-100 percent, it is past time for us to make these investments in our state workforce, which remains one of the lowest paid (in) the nation," Parson said in a news release. "Our direct care and front line staff often make less than entry-level retail positions. These public servants have tough jobs and rarely receive the thanks they deserve, and communities all across the state rely on them everyday."

The tough part will be convincing lawmakers outside of Central Missouri to spend the needed $91 million on state workers. Our area delegation of lawmakers already is well aware of the workforce shortage problems.

It will be up to them to convince their fellow lawmakers the funding is needed for state government operations to continue at the same level and without interruption.

News Tribune

Print Headline: Our Opinion: A Christmas miracle for state employees?


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