State Employee Pay Raises Survive Senate

The AP reports:

The Missouri Senate signed off on a $24 billion budget plan early Wednesday that would provide a raise to the lowest-paid state workers in the nation and spare blind residents from a potential cut to their government-funded health care plan.

Senate passage of the budget came only after a coalition of nine Republican senators agreed to drop a two-day stalling effort when they gained a variety of concessions that did relatively little to change to bottom line of the proposed spending plan for the fiscal year that starts July 1. In fact, after talking about the need for more cuts, some of the dissident Republican senators failed in an effort to strip the employee pay raise and then provided the winning margin on a vote to add money to the blind health care program.

This is a great win for state employees, whose pay is ranked 50 out of 50 in the country and who, not only haven’t had a raise in three years, but in fact have had take-home pay reduced by cuts to pensions and health care by Governor Nixon and prior legislatures. While a two-percent pay raise isn’t as large as I’d like it to be, it’s evident from the discussion in the Senate that it’s probably as far as we could go and get it passed. State employees owe a big thank you to Senators Kurt Schaefer and Mike Kehoe.