To raise or not to raise? That is the question Missouri lawmakers are expected to decide about a state worker pay increase.

Gov. Mike Parson

Gov. Mike Parson wants the Legislature to boost the pay for all of Missouri’s roughly 50,000 state workers by the end of this month. His plan calls for a 5.5% cost of living adjustment and $15 an hour minimum wage for all of Missouri’s state workers. It would also include increases to address compression issues between pay grades after the base pay would increase to $15 per hour.

The Missouri House Budget Committee is expected to consider the plan today.

Missouri has one of the lowest paid state workforces in the nation and the state is not immune from the national shortage of workers.

“With many positions across state government facing turnover rates anywhere from 10-100 percent and vacancy rates from 30-100%, it is past time for us to make these investments in our state workforce, which remains one of the lowest paid the nation,” Parson said in a press release. “Our direct care and front line staff often make less than entry-level retail positions. These public servants have tough jobs and rarely receive the thanks they deserve, and communities all across the state rely on them everyday.”

Missouri Senate President Pro Tem Dave Schatz speaks to Capitol reporters on November 8, 2018 (photo courtesy of Harrison Sweazea at Senate Communications)

State Senate President Dave Schatz, R-Sullivan, tells Missourinet raising state employee pay is a balancing act.

“It’s an issue that state government has to somewhat keep up or try to keep up but they also can’t be in a situation where they become taking those employees from businesses that are trying to run their own business as well,” says Schatz.

Missouri Senate Majority Floor Leader Caleb Rowden, of Columbia, tells Missourinet he’s torn about the governor’s effort. Rowden says his sense is there is some support and some concern in the upper chamber.

State Sen. Caleb Rowden (photo courtesy; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

“I don’t think anybody doesn’t want to pay state workers more,” says Rowden. “I do think you have a couple of things that we’ve heard in various conversations that we’ve had. One is just the sheer magnitude of dollars and certainly we have a lot of money now but that’s obviously not going to always be the case and if you do this it’s an ongoing thing. I think there’s a lot of folks who are just struggling to figure out, we want to do something because, you know, certainly the reason why the Governor did it makes perfect sense. There’s a workforce problem everywhere, including in state government. But I think we want to try to find a way to do it one, what we would conceive to be the right way, but also the way that can get the requisite number of votes in both chambers. So, I don’t know what that is at this point. It feels like a tough lift to do it all based on a few conversations that we’ve had, but you know, I think we’ll see how that goes.”

The governor’s proposal would cost $91 million – $52 million would come from general revenue.

Earlier story:

Missouri agencies are pumped about Parson’s state worker pay increase request:

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