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Oklahoma's state employees get no raises in budget plan

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin and legislative budget leaders want a study conducted to look at the pay of all state employees with the goal to move toward a performance-based compensation system.
BY MICHAEL MCNUTT mmcnutt@opubco.com Published: May 6, 2013
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State troopers and correctional officers, who received the backing of legislators this year for pay raises, find themselves waiting until a study is completed that looks at the pay of all state employees.

Gov. Mary Fallin didn't include pay raises for the state's approximately 34,000 employees in her budget she presented to lawmakers when this year's session started in February.

She, like most Republican legislative leaders, opposes a cost-of-living increase.

Instead, she proposed $200,000 to develop a study to look at the pay of state employees with the goal to move toward a performance-based compensation system.

The study also will look at what private businesses are paying workers who perform similar tasks as state employees.

State employees haven't had an across-the-board increase since October 2006.

Some agencies have provided pay increases for their employees since then. The $7.1 billion budget agreement approved last week by GOP legislative leaders and Fallin calls for the study and no raises.

“We want to have a long-term plan to where we can take a good look and adjust the areas that we need to adjust for different salary ranges for all of our state employees,” she said. “We do realize that the Oklahoma Highway Patrol and in particular some of the employees … in corrections do need to come up in some areas.”

Workers had high hopes

Troopers and correctional officers received a glimmer of hope that they might be given special treatment.

A House budget subcommittee approved House Bill 2145, which called for a 16 percent pay raise for troopers, and HB 2146, which would increase the starting pay for correctional officers and provide a 5 percent increase for other officers and state Corrections Department workers.

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By the numbers

Public safety pay

$11.83

Oklahoma's hourly pay for correctional officers — the lowest in the region, according to the Corrections Department. Starting pay for correctional officers is $12.98 an hour in Kansas, $13.38 an hour in Texas and $18.88 an hour in Colorado.

About 30 percent

The percentage of correctional workers in Oklahoma who qualify for food stamps, Rep. Jeff Hickman said.

85 percent

The percentage of the Corrections Department staff whose children qualify for school lunch programs.

767

The number of troopers — a 22-year low. The patrol is authorized to have 925 troopers.

30

The number of cadets the Oklahoma Highway Patrol's academy — the first one in about three years — graduated last year; 24 troopers retired in 2012.

More information

Of the six states bordering Oklahoma, only New Mexico pays its troopers less, said Trooper Keith Barenberg, president of the Oklahoma State Troopers Association.

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