A biweekly pay option for state employees is once again appearing in committees in both chambers of the Missouri Legislature.
Jefferson City Republican Sen. Mike Bernskoetter is sponsoring SB 111, a bill that would allow state employees to be paid every two weeks rather than on the same two dates every month, a change he said would increase the number of paychecks per year without costing the state anything to implement.
"It does not mandate that the state pay employees are paid that way; it simply gives them the option to do so if it makes sense for the workforce as a whole," Bernskoetter told his colleagues Thursday morning in the Senate Fiscal Oversight Committee. "The current law allows state employees to be paid either once or twice monthly. The statute does not allow employees to be paid every two weeks, which is a common business practice."
Bernskoetter noted he and fellow Jefferson City Republican Rep. Dave Griffith had sponsored the same language last year and that Griffith's effort had made it through both chambers to the governor's desk. It was vetoed by Gov. Mike Parson due to amendments that would renew a bevy of agricultural tax credits for a shorter period than the governor had hoped for, eventually leading to a brief special session that extended the tax credits and left the pay schedule change null and void.
Both lawmakers have again filed the parallel effort this year.
The committee heard support from a single witness during the brief hearing, which spent less than 1o minutes on Bernskoetter's bill. Garrett Webb, a registered lobbyist for the Active and Retired Missouri State Employees Association, pointed to the oft-discussed high turnover and vacancy rates in state government.
"We don't see this building necessarily as the solution to our workforce shortage when it comes to state employees, but certainly makes it a little more appealing to work for the state," Webb said.
Webb also voiced his support for Griffith's version of the bill, HB 131, when it came up earlier this week in a marathon hearing in the House General Laws Committee, much of which concerned a string of bills focused on drag shows and the ability of transgender women to participate in sports.
"This bill was brought to me by the Office of Administration to try and make it more effective and be another tool that we can support our state employees with and be ale to give them 26 paychecks a year instead of 24," Griffith said. "I'm bringing the bill back this year because right here in Jefferson City, state employees make up the largest part of the workforce.
"When I was knocking doors during my campaign, the thing I heard most was that 'We need to have our pay increased, we need to be able to have a voice, and we need to feel like we're appreciated.'"
Neither bill was voted on or amended in committee this week.
Griffith pointed out there were other efforts under way this session to support the state's struggling workforce: A recommendation included as part of Parson's Fiscal Year 2023 Early Supplemental Budget request, would implement an 8.7 percent cost of living adjustment (COLA) for all state employees.
The request would also up the shift differential -- an extra bump in pay for those working outside of normal business hours -- for congregate care staff within the Department of Social Services (DSS), Department of Corrections (DOC), Department of Mental Health (DMH) and the Missouri Veterans Commission.
That proposal is working its way through the House Budget Committee.
Parson challenged lawmakers to pass the bill along to his desk for his signature by March 1.
SB 111: Allows for payment of state employee salaries every two weeks
Sponsor: Sen. Mike Bernskoetter
HB 131: Allows state employees to be paid biweekly
Sponsor: Rep. Dave Griffith