Parson proposes 5.5% wage increase for state employees, $15 an hour minimum

Republican Missouri Gov. Mike Parson announced on Monday that he would recommend a cost of living adjustment (COLA) of 5.5% and a base wage of $15 an hour for all employees at the State. The proposal will cost $91 million, including $52 million in general revenue.

Parson is proposing a similar 5.5% COLA in the fiscal year 2023 budget, totaling $218 million including $123 million from general revenue.

Earlier Monday, State Budget Director Dan Haug announced that net general revenue for November 2021 was up 19% from November 2020, from $811.1 million a year. last at $965.5 million this year. Net general revenue for fiscal year 2022 to date decreased 0.7% from November 2020, from $4.53 billion last year to $4.50 billion this year.

After the legislative session ended, Parson vetoed $1.1 million to fund performance incentives for top performers.

“With many positions in state government facing 10-100% turnover rates and 30-100% vacancy rates, it is high time for us to make these investments in our hand. state workforce, which remains one of the lowest paid in the country,” Parson said in a statement announcing the proposed increase. “Our direct and frontline care staff often occupy less than entry-level retail positions. These public servants have tough jobs and rarely get the thanks they deserve, and communities across the state rely on them every day.”

State Sen. Bill Eigel, R-St. Charles, said Parson’s move was not planned.

“A lot of small government Republicans who voted for the GOP last year probably didn’t see this policy decision coming,” Eigel said on social media. “Of course, they didn’t see the gas tax hike coming either.”

State employees are scheduled to receive a 2% COLA increase on January 1, 2022. Parson has recommended 3% and 2% COLA increases for state employees in previous budgets.

Monday’s recommendation will be submitted at the start of the 2022 regular legislative session, beginning Jan. 5, 2022. If the legislature passes the salary adjustments in January, the 5.5% COLA increase would begin Feb. 1, as well as raises for those making under $15 an hour and adjustments to address wage compression issues between pay grades.

“Veterans, home care workers, residential aides for vulnerable children and highway workers are among the lowest paid state workers, but they are essential to maintaining state services and improving the quality of life for all Missourians,” Parson said. “These raises are needed for our team members who provide dedicated service to Missourians day in and day out, and we call on the General Assembly to help us make these critical investments in our state workforce. .”

Republican budget officials in the House and Senate endorsed Parson’s approach.

“I recognize the urgency and support a quick supplement,” State Rep. Cody Smith, R-Carthage and House Budget Chairman, said in a statement. “This will ensure the state is able to retain talented employees who will continue to provide essential services to the citizens of our state.”

State Sen. Dan Hegeman, R-Cosby and Senate Appropriations Chairman, said the wage increases were necessary to maintain the quality of the state government workforce.

“Despite steady pay increases, Missouri state employees continue to rank among the lowest paid in the nation,” Hegeman said. “This proposed compensation plan will increase the minimum base salary, reduce wage compression, and ensure Missouri is able to recruit and retain talented and dedicated public servants.”

William M. Mayer