Missouri Governor Eric Greitens (Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI)

Governor Eric Greitens’ $29 billion state budget proposal for the fiscal year that begins in July includes $7 million in consulting fees to find efficiencies within the Office of Administration. State Rep. Kip Kendrick, D-Columbia, says that money is better spent elsewhere.

“At times when we’re cutting $100 million in higher education and then we’re requesting $7 million for consulting fees, we need to be focusing on state employees, the ones we do have, in making sure that they see pay increases this year,” says Kendrick.

House Budget Committee Chair Scott Fitzpatrick, R-Shell Knob, says he strongly agrees with a comment from St. Louis Republican David Gregory, who says the consultant fees could save the state $700 million. They say lawmakers must ensure the suggestions received by the consultants can be acted upon.

Greitens wants the Missouri Legislature to create a merit based system
that would measure the job performance of state workers. Those making $50,000 or less annually and meeting performance goals would receive a roughly $650 annual pay raise.

State Rep. Kip Kendrick

Since becoming a legislator, one of Fitzpatrick’s priorities has been to increase state worker pay.

Missouri has the lowest paid state workforce in the land. The average annual salary of a state employee is $39,682.

For the second year in a row, the governor’s proposed budget also includes a major hit to higher education. He’s recommending about $76 million in overall reductions to Missouri’s colleges and universities in fiscal year 2019. Greitens is also freezing about $24 million to higher ed in the current state budget. The figures represent a $100 million overall budget reduction to Missouri’s colleges and universities from the current fiscal year’s budget.