House budget committee chairman Scott Fitzpatrick (R-Shell Knob) says pay raises for state workers would be difficult next fiscal year.

“Employee pay is something is an issue that is important to me,” says Fitzpatrick. “It’s something I have talked about in the past as being something I want to address, but I think we’re going to be looking at potentially having to cut $500 million out of the budget this fiscal year that we’re entering. I think that’s going to make it challenging to do much on employee pay this year.”

Representative Scott Fitzpatrick (photo courtesy; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

The Missouri legislature and then-Governor Jay Nixon (D) approved last year a 2% pay increase for state workers.

Fitzpatrick tells Missourinet that state worker pay raises next fiscal year are not impossible, but it would be an uphill climb.

“I don’t think that there will be necessarily any layoffs but I do think that we’re going to be really challenged this year, more so than I’ve seen since I’ve been here. This is my fifth session,” says Fitzpatrick.

Nixon restricted a total of $201 million this fiscal year.

“If you started over with this year’s budget and took into account the things that the departments think are mandatory, we’re probably looking at about $500 million worth of cuts we would have to make to take care of what the departments are thinking are mandatory,” says Fitzpatrick.

The average base salary of Missouri’s state workers is nearly $38,000 – making them the lowest paid in the nation. According to a study by St. Louis firm CBIZ Human Capital Services, base salaries for Missouri’s state employees are more than 10% below what is considered competitive in the job market.

CBIZ says the state would have to spend more than $13 million to bring state worker pay up to market level.

The study says state worker benefits are above average, but not enough to counterbalance low pay.