With the Legislature not having approved a general pay increase for state employees since 2006, Sen. Ralph Shortey and Rep. Leslie Osborn on Friday called upon the governor and legislative leaders to make state employees a priority and give them a raise.
Shortey noted a recent study requested by the governor and state leaders found state employee salaries to be seven percent below market, and recommended an appropriation of $41.1 million for a 3 percent pay increase. Since the 2002 fiscal year, the Legislature has approved just two proposals providing for across-the-board state employee pay raises.
“In our effort to be efficient we should not lose sight of the fact that state employees provide valuable work – they police our highways, stand between us and violent criminals and keep state government running,” said Shortey, R-Oklahoma City. “State employees are the backbone of our government and they deserve our support. Since 2008, we have eliminated positions, consolidated positions and asked state employees to do more with less. It’s time for us to reward their efforts with a well-earned raise.”
Shortey noted a number of state agency heads were awarded substantial annual pay increases last year, some in excess of $40,000, while rank-and-file state employees were told to wait for the results of the salary study.
“Our public safety and corrections employees are placing themselves in harm’s way to protect Oklahomans, and it is simply unacceptable that their salaries should remain so low and so stagnant while these directors see theirs soar above six figures,” Shortey said.
Rep. Leslie Osborn said she has been working on a study to prioritize where state government should allocate employee pay increases.
“State employees deserve a raise and the governor should absolutely make it a priority in her discussions,” said Osborn, R-Mustang. “But public safety and corrections employees, who often work in hazardous situations, should be at the front of the line. These dedicated men and women have earned a pay raise and it’s time for us to follow through.”
Shortey added that a proposal to increase state employee pay would likely be supported by a broad, bipartisan coalition of lawmakers, in addition to the following members who were willing to lend their support to the effort. Sens. Mark Allen, Bill Brown, Nathan Dahm and Kim David, and Reps. Mike Jackson, Jeff Hickman, Mike Christian, John Bennett, Lewis Moore, Dan Kirby, Dustin Roberts, Lisa Billy, David Dank, John Enns, Earl Sears, Bobby Cleveland, Aaron Stiles, Mike Turner, Gus Blackwell, Gary Banz and Lee Denney.