The state House of Representatives on Tuesday approved a bill designed to grant large, targeted pay raises to Oklahoma’s most underpaid employees this year, with a goal of raising all state employee salaries to 90 percent of the private market within four years.
The bill sailed through the state House with a 90-0 vote and will now head to the Senate. There was no debate.
“The state of Oklahoma is losing skilled and educated employees to retirement and the private sector,” said Rep. Leslie Osborn, author of House Bill 3293. “Our state agencies need productive minds and ingenuity to fill those gaps, provide better services and address the problems of the future. Competitive wages will greatly enhance the state’s ability to choose from the top recruits.”
Osborn, R-Mustang, said her measure calls for setting aside 3 percent of the previous fiscal year’s payroll costs for salary adjustments each year.
Three percent of last year’s payroll would be about $40 million.
Some would wait
Osborn said she doesn’t want the money doled out evenly to state employees.
Instead, Osborn said she initially wants to see large, targeted raises given to the most underpaid state employees, which she said includes public safety employees, corrections workers and some Department of Human Services workers.
Other employees would have to wait their turn as the state attempts to raise overall state employee wages to 90 percent of the private market within four years.
Oklahoma state employees, in general, are currently paid about 20 percent less than the private market, according to the Oklahoma Public Employees Association.