Oklahoma Gov. Fallin sticks with decision to hold back on employee raises

The governor wants a comprehensive study done first that will look at pay raises and benefits paid to Oklahoma workers compared with those in the private sector and other states.
BY MICHAEL MCNUTT mmcnutt@opubco.com Published: May 11, 2013
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Gov. Mary Fallin said she isn't backing down from a budget agreement with lawmakers that doesn't call for raises in the upcoming fiscal year, despite pleas from state troopers and correctional officers who visited the state Capitol in recent days.

“I made it clear I'd like to look at all of our state employees and the various positions that they hold and do an in-depth analysis of where our state employees rank compared to the private-sector marketplace,” said Fallin, who on the first day of this year's session called for a study that would compare the pay and benefits of state employees with those paid in the private sector and other states.

“I would like to do the total market analysis and then next year focus on the areas that we need to bring up to better standards,” she said Friday.

House Democrats, during Thursday's debate on the budget, questioned why troopers and correctional officers couldn't be given raises for the upcoming fiscal year instead of waiting for results from a study. They said the state finance office conducts an annual study of state employee pay; however the study doesn't include benefits.

“It's important we look at the whole package,” said Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman, R-Sapulpa. “We have a lot of state employees that are very deserving of pay raises.

“It's going to be a very detailed compensation study and I think to be fair we need to go through that process,” he said. “While our actual pay to state employees may be less than the private sector, our benefit package is supreme compared to the private sector and other states. All that needs to be looked at extensively. Hopefully, we will have a plan when we come back next year.”

The $7.1 billion budget agreement includes $200,000 for the compensation study. Fallin said she hopes GOP legislative leaders, who reached an agreement with her on the budget earlier this month, will abide by the agreement.