The Norman Transcript

Editorials

December 13, 2013

Possible raises for state workers

NORMAN — A Tahlequah legislator has pre-filed bills to raise state employee and teacher salaries.

Rep. Mike Brown wants to grant 3 percent pay raises to all state employees.

A study authorized by the governor’s office found state employees have lower salaries than comparable jobs in the private sector, but the benefits are good.

The legislation filing comes as House Speaker T.W. Shannon is defending raises given to his own staff. State Democrats say the raises will cost taxpayers an additional $280,000.

Mr. Shannon, in Norman at a civic club luncheon this week, agreed that teacher pay and that of Highway Patrol troopers is low. He wants to look at outputs rather than just seniority for state workers.

State Democratic Chairman Wallace Collins of Norman said state employees have not seen an across-the-board pay increase since 2006. “It is clear that the Republican leadership is continuing their class warfare by denying middle class Oklahomans a living wage,” Collins said. “How can the Republicans deny raises to these middle class employees, especially when we have seen our state revenues increase?"

Indeed, revenues have risen but state officials this week warned that tax funds continue to be below estimates used to figure this year’s budget. If that trend continues, lawmakers will go into the session with a less than positive outlook for fiscal year 2015.

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