At least one Missouri House Democrat is “skeptical” of Republican leadership’s talk of a pay increase for state employees.
House Republican leaders have called on Governor Jay Nixon (D) to support using increased state revenue to give state employees a pay raise.
Representative Jon Carpenter (D) says the legislature has the most control over the budget, and the Republican control the legislature, so they have had their chances.
“It’s been years now in which we’ve paid our state employees the lowest in the nation and [Republicans have] had total control over the ability to fix that, and they haven’t done so.”
The budget is proposed by the governor, and then the state legislature makes changes to that proposal before sending it back to him to veto, sign, or allow to become law without action. Some Republican lawmakers have said a pay increase for state employees has little chance of passage if it isn’t first proposed by the governor.
Carpenter says state revenue will eventually peak, so money to sustain increased pay would have to be found elsewhere in the budget. A vocal critic when tax breaks are debated, he says it is breaks like those adopted in recent years that have made it harder to find money in the budget for a pay raise while still supporting other priorities, like education..
“When it comes to special tax breaks for special interests, which deplete our ability to fund those things, a lot of those same [Republicans] still go and pass all those special interests the tax loopholes.
House Republicans, in raising the issue, questioned Governor Nixon’s proposing of a 6-percent hike in state money for colleges and universities, when state workers are the least paid in the nation. Carpenter said there should be money for both, but again blames tax breaks for difficulty in finding the money.
Carpenter says he hopes his skepticism is proven wrong.
“There’s been a lot of talk in the past about doing this. I hope my friends on the Republican side of the aisle will sincerely make this a priority in 2016,” said Carpenter. “If they do so I will be the first one to compliment their efforts and I will be joining them in their efforts.”