State workers have been calling for pay raises for years. This week, the House and Senate released their plans to give them one. A union that represents a majority of state employees applauds the move, but wants more.
House Appropriations Chair Rep. Travis Cummings (R-Orange Park) announcing his chamber’s plan for state workers Wednesday. It includes $181 million for state employee raises. Under the plan, any state worker earning less than $50,000 would get an $1,800 raise.
That plan would benefit who may need it most but it leaves out anyone who makes more than $50,000.
The Senate’s plan goes further. Senate Appropriations Chair Rob Bradley (R-Orange Park) told Appropriations Committee members $249.9 million would go to stateworker raises under his chamber's proposal. It includes a 3% across the board pay raise for all employees, or a $1,000 dollar raise, whichever is greater.
Vicki Hall heads the state employee union, AFSCME.
“We are extremely pleased that the House and the Senate budget have prioritized the raises for our state workers,” Hall said.
Last month AFSCME held a bargaining session with the state to try to get a pay raise for workers. The public employee union wants a 5% across the board pay hike and a 2% cost of living adjustment.
“We actually want this to continue, to go forward, not just for one year,” Hall said. “As you know our state workers are the lowest paid state workers in the nation.”
Sen. Bill Montford (D-Tallahassee) agrees the cost of living adjustment is needed.
“If you look at the cost of living for example in the last ten years its gone up. So if you took a snapshot 10 years ago [and a] snapshot today you’d be hard-pressed to try and tell somebody state government is a good place to work," Montford said.
Montford has been focusing on making sure state workers get paid competatively with workers in the private sector.
“We often have said, people have said, we need to run government like a business. I agree with that, we should. State government is a business,” said Montford. “But those businesses out there that are successful take care of their employees. I don’t know any successful business that let their employees go to work for 10 years with only one small pay increase.”
State workers haven’t received an across the board pay raise since 2008.
He’s carrying a bill to put a cost of living adjustment into law. It would authorize annual cost of living adjustments to base rates of pay for state employees who have achieved their required performance standard. The bill passed one committee and has two more stops. It’s companion in the House hasn’t been heard.