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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“When they reach an agreement with us, they need to stick to their word,” Fallin said. “Certainly we're open to look at anything they might consider.”

Bingman said he expects senators will approve the budget measure and send it on to the governor.

“Once we have it in a budget agreement it's difficult to backtrack and say, ‘We need to go give somebody a pay raise,'” he said.

Fallin said she appreciates the service given by understaffed troopers and correctional officers.

“We know there are some changes that need to be made in areas, but just give us a little bit of time to figure out what needs to be done,” she said.

House members, mostly Democrats, questioned why, with the budget nearly 4 percent more than this year's, that no money could be found for pay raises for state troopers and correctional officers, who have gone several years without raises. Some agencies have given raises to employees since the last across-the-board pay increase in October 2006.

Rep. Scott Martin, chairman of the House Appropriations and Budget Committee, said some agencies have used money from revolving funds to provide pay increases for state workers. Martin, R-Norman, suggested the Corrections Department, which has about $22 million in revolving funds, and the Public Safety Department, which has about $26 million in revolving funds, use some of that money for raises or bonuses to correctional offices and troopers.

Of the Corrections Department's revolving funds, about $11.1 million is not tied to specific purposes, but most of that is committed to other expenses such as private prison beds and inmate medical costs, a spokesman said.

The Public Safety Department's funds are restricted, an agency spokesman said.



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