Buried in the $35 billion budget approved recently by state lawmakers is a 2 percent pay raise for state workers.
It's basically enough to keep up with inflation. Still, we appreciate lawmakers' willingness to go along with the increase, which was included in Gov. Mike Parson's proposed budget at the beginning of the legislative session.
The increase, which takes effect Jan. 1, is less than the 3 percent given last year. But it's also 2 percent more than in many years in the past when state workers received nothing.
Those lean times have resulted in Missouri being rated last among the states in terms of pay for state workers in recent years.
Still, for a year in which we're coming out of a pandemic, many state workers appreciate being gainfully employed and will gladly accept a 2 percent increase.
In recent years, the state has had a pay study done to determine where our pay rates compared to other states. It has tried to address the disparity. One way has been to streamline state government, while increasing pay for certain workers who are hard to retain, such as in the Department of Corrections.
That has helped, but state pay still isn't on par with other states or other equivalent private jobs. As time goes on, that will create more of a problem for the state, much like it has for DOC.
If employees aren't happy, they're less hesitant than in past generations to jump ship and find a new job.
The state has shrunk its public workforce over the years, so it's more important than ever that the state retain quality workers. Competitive pay is essential to do that.