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Our Opinion: State pay hikes welcome

March 2, 2022 at 3:55 a.m.

We commend the Missouri Legislature and Gov. Mike Parson for approval of a supplemental budget that will give state workers a 5.5 percent cost of living raise and ensure they make a minimum of $15 an hour.

As we reported, the bill also accounts for wage compression for those employees already making above $15 an hour. Other sections of the bill appropriate funds for education and the state's Medicaid program.

It's an expensive cost for the state, but it's also long overdue and in the state's best interest.

As of Jan. 10, about 4,500 jobs were unfilled and open in state government.

The state's turnover rate is high. That means the state is paying to constantly retrain workers who aren't staying long. And, in some departments, the state has to pay overtime to the ones who do stay.

Missouri pays its government workers less than just about every other state. Ultimately, that's costing our state more to constantly hire and retrain employees. Meanwhile, the state can't provide Missourians with the level of service they expect, such as keeping state-maintained roads cleared of snow during winter.

"We are happy to sign the supplemental budget bill into law today," Parson said in a statement. "This bill not only gives our dedicated state team members a long-overdue pay increase, but also appropriates critical funding to our K-12 schools and child care system. We thank the General Assembly for working to get this important piece of legislation passed and to my desk."

The only major change from the governor's proposal on the pay-plan side was the removal of language setting an official minimum wage for the sector, instead funding the $15 an hour baseline without parameters attached. The omission was a compromise between the House and Senate budget leaders, said House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Cody Smith, R-Carthage, a sponsor of the bill.

The bill undoubtedly will help the state hire and retain the number and the quality of workers it needs. We commend the governor and lawmakers for taking the action, especially our Mid-Missouri delegation that championed the proposal on behalf of state workers.

News Tribune

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