Floor Speech on State Employee Pay

The House is working on the state budget this afternoon, including state employee benefits. The great news is that health insurance costs will not be going up as much as health care inflation in other areas of the economy. The decent new is that there’s only a pay raise of $500 per employee.

This is not enough, but I’m not one to make the perfect the enemy of the good. It’s still a step in the right direction after state employees went five years between raises until we secured one in last year’s budget.

The following are the prepared remarks I made on the floor:

Mr. Speaker, as you and other members of this body are aware Missouri state employees rank 50th out of 50 in state employee pay. This budget includes a pay raise of $500 per employee. This is a step in the right direction, but, in my opinion, it’s not enough.

Over the last five years, the governor has cut thousands of state employee jobs. Some of these were justified, others not. But regardless of the propriety of any of these cuts, one thing is undeniably true: state employees are being asked to do more, but not being compensated accordingly for it.

Mr. Speaker, Missouri is not New York. It’s not California and thank God it’s not Illinois. We don’t need and in fact should not be one of the nation’s top-paying states because our cost-of-living just isn’t that high. But we shouldn’t be ranked below Mississippi, Arkansas, Kansas and every other state in the country. We should be closer to where we are in national cost-of-living standards.

This budget keeps us moving forward. One-quarter glass of water is much better than on water at all. On behalf of 5,000+ state employees who I represent, I thank the Budget Committee for this quarter glass. But it’s my great hope that we can build on this in this budget and in future years to get state employee pay out of the national cellar.