Missouri state employees are to receive their first pay raise in nearly six years in a move that some lawmakers said was long overdue and others said the state still can’t afford.
The raise, which takes effect July 1, will only reflect a 2 percent increase, but it will carry a $45.5 million price tag for the state, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Missouri employees will still be the lowest-paid state workers in the United States, the newspaper reported. But the small boost in pay will help some 54,500 of them who make less than $70,000 per year.
However, some 1,800 state workers who make more than that, including supervisors and department directors, were excluded from the pay raise, which was approved by the legislature.
“It’s not enough, but in this budget climate, that’s probably the most we could have gotten,” said Republican state Rep. Jay Barnes.
Republican state Sen. Chuck Purgason reminded his colleagues during debate on the issue Monday that the raise wasn’t “a one-time expenditure” and would have to be paid for every year. He also disagreed with the salary cap, suggesting that all state workers regardless of salary should have received a pay increase.
“I’m not saying the people on the lower levels don’t work hard, but by doing it the way that we’re doing it, you’re telling people that it doesn’t matter if you work hard to get a better job with better pay,” Purgason said.
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