Starting Tuesday, more than 11,000 state employees will get pay raises ranging from 6.25 percent to 8 percent, including prison guards, child welfare workers, nurses and others identified in a comprehensive study as underpaid.
State Rep. Leslie Osborn, R-Mustang, said this is just the first step in the ultimate goal of bringing state employee pay to 90 percent of the amount paid in the private sector for similar jobs.
“A lot of the turnover in these jobs is because of pay,” Osborn said. “This can help lower turnover. The hope is to be able to recruit and retain good state employees.”
Oklahoma Public Employees Association President Jess Callahan, who is a social worker with the state Department of Human Services, said DHS workers will see a 6.25 percent increase.
“It is a step in the right direction, but we have a ways to go,” said Callahan, who makes $31,000 a year. “For me, the increase will be right at $200 a month. Hopefully, my wife and I can try to put together a nest egg. We have two children. We would like to be in a comfortable position to put our kids through college.
“This is not going to cure the problem, but for some state employees, this could be the difference in paying the rent or not.”
Prison guards will get an 8 percent raise, boosting their starting salary to nearly $13 an hour.
The $7.1 billion in state appropriations for fiscal year 2015 includes $37.1 million for targeted pay raises.
A comprehensive state study of employee remuneration helped in the formulation of the increases.
“A lot of these people haven’t received any raises since 2006,” said Trish Frazier, policy director for the OPEA.
About 800 Oklahoma Highway Patrol troopers won’t see their increase until Jan. 1, when starting trooper pay will jump 22.8 percent to $40,000 a year, from the current annual pay of $33,192.
“I’m proud to have signed a budget that will offer hard-working state employees, including troopers, corrections officers, social workers and many we have identified as undercompensated, a well-deserved raise,” Gov. Mary Fallin said.
At a glance
Nearly 70 bills that were passed by the Legislature this year take effect Tuesday. They include: