The Norman Transcript

Opinion

December 29, 2013

Offer reasonable pay for state employees

NORMAN — Editor, The Transcript:

Oklahoma state employees haven’t had a cost of living raise in seven years. They earn 21.7 percent less than the private market and 6.4 percent below comparable state governments, according to the state’s compensation study.

No matter how good a job they do, they have to get a promotion to get a raise — not easy when the state has cut the work force 10 percent since 2009. The new performance pay concept focuses on cutting state employees’ health care and retirement benefits.

Gov. Mary Fallin wants to gamble state pensions on the stock market. Rep. Leslie Osborn wants to “scrap” the $200 a year retention bonus. She thinks it’s fair to pay state employees 80 percent of private sector pay for the same work.

Labor Commissioner Mark Costello wants to “overhaul” the merit protection system, although merit protected was enacted to protect citizens from turnover and inefficiency when political bosses fired qualified workers and hired inept political cronies after every election.

Legislators intend to consolidate retirement plans so those who pay into solvent funds (like OK Public Employees Retirement System funded at 81 percent) would be forced to shore up other funds (like OK Teachers Retirement System at 57.2 percent) that were repeatedly raided by past legislatures to fund pet projects.

If we expect state employees to be efficient and capable, then we must offer fair and reasonable pay for important work that serves everybody from business leaders to the most vulnerable in our communities. It’s only fair, and it’s only right.

PHYLLIS BRYANT

Bethany

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