The Oklahoma House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed HB 3293 Tuesday. This bill would set aside 3 percent of the previous fiscal year’s payroll costs for salary adjustments each year. The bill would also remove salary structures from statute and give authority to the Office of Management Enterprise Services to set pay structures and determine if targeted pay band adjustments are necessary, rather than the state doling out across-the-board pay raises as in years past.
It is important to note that even though it passed, it still must be funded during the appropriation process. The bill had the title struck which means it can be amended and then must be heard again before final approval. It goes to the senate but could be amended there.
Passage of this bill represents the opportunity to continue the discussion about meaningful long-term changes to how state employees are paid. Just providing some employees with an increase is not good enough. Employees need a raise this year but we must also establish a system in which raises are given more frequently than every 7 or 8 years, as has been the case recently. OPEA is interested in a system that has “triggers” for pay raises based on sales tax collections and is working with lawmakers to include this in legislation.
Earlier language which would have lowered the amount of sick leave an employee earns and reduced the amount of shared leave available was removed from this bill at OPEA’s insistence prior to it being voted on.
Many more steps must be taken before this is passed into law. State employees remember last year when a bill passed through the legislature to provide for a $1,000 incentive bonus but it was not funded during the appropriation process. Any pay increases this year will also need to be funded through appropriations that usually occur at the end of the legislative session.
The bottom line is that today’s state employees need to have a fair salary structure that will pay them adequately for the work that they do. If Oklahoma’s lawmakers want to keep a quality workforce they will make changes to the system that will improve state employee salaries.
Tue, March 11, 2014
by Thomas Dunning