Missouri House working on increasing state employee payJanuary 10, 2022
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Lawmakers are back at the Missouri Capitol for what will be their first full week of session, and starting off the discussion Monday was raising state employees’ wages to $15 an hour.
Missouri employs more than 50,000 workers who are among the lowest-paid state workers nationally. Gov. Mike Parson is asking legislators to give state workers a cost-of-living adjustment. Most members on the House Budget committee seem to agree, but some want more to be done.
“I’m glad we’re talking about this, obviously this is probably a long-overdue situation that has been exasperated,” Rep. Peter Merideth, D-St. Louis, said.
Last month, Parson requested lawmakers to pass a 5.5% cost of living adjustment and a $15 an hour minimum wage for state employees.
We’re getting to the point where if we have more vacancies and more turnover, we’re not going to be able to operate our state facilities,” State Budget Director Dan Haug said. “Really, we’re just trying to meet the market on this pay increase so that we can get people in to provide the services that Missourians need and expect.”
Haug said in Fulton, the state operates a mental hospital, but the pay is better at the Dollar General distribution center where employees make $17 an hour.
“Unfortunately, on certain shifts, if somebody on the next shift isn’t there, we have minimum staffing requirements in our mental health institutions and our prisons and we’re having to force people to stay overtime on that next shift,” Onder said. “That’s not the way we want to run the state.”
If approved, the raise is expected to cost $91 million this year and more than $215 million in 2023. In addition to the governor’s proposal, state employees received a 2% pay increase in January.
Haugh said of the 51,000 positions, 3,000 of them are currently vacant.
“How do you think we will be able to maintain this pay raise throughout the years?,” Rep. Brenda Shields, R-St. Joseph, said.
“Missouri’s revenues are doing very well,” Haug responded. “I’m very confident that we can afford what we are doing now and what we are going to need to do in the future.”
Haug said told members of the House Budget committee Monday, across all state departments, the turnover is 26%. He said the industry standard is 10%.
“Turnover rate for people making under $30,000 at the state was 54%, almost 55%,” Haug said.
He said he’s heard from several department directors; employees are looking forward to the pay increase and considering staying at their job.
“We’re not trying to set the market, honestly, we’re not even trying to get the middle of the market,” Haug said “We’re just trying to get somewhere where we can…