Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin signed legislation today that begins to improve state employee compensation by providing targeted pay raises this year and sets the stage for future raises.
“It is important that Oklahoma improve the compensation of employees providing core services in our state,” said Sterling Zearley, executive director of the Oklahoma Public Employees Association (OPEA). “Today’s signing shows that we are making progress in state employee pay but we have more work to do.”
In addition to the bills enacting a raise for some employees in 2014, Gov. Fallin signed House Bill 1794 requiring that no changes to current employees’ benefits be made until an additional $60 million is appropriated in future years for state employee salaries. This bill was an OPEA request bill that ensures the discussion about state employee compensation does not end with this year’s raises. OPEA will continue to press for more salary increases in the coming years.
A 2013 study of state worker salaries and benefits showed state agency employees were compensated approximately 20 percent less than counterparts in the private market. It also showed that state benefits were more valuable than private workers’ benefits, but that value did not make up for low wages.
“The compensation study recommended Oklahoma address low pay immediately. With the targeted raises approved this year, we’ve started to fix the problem, “Zearley said. But, we need to continue to work with legislators to get all employees’ pay closer to the private market.”
“We understand that the days of across-the-board pay raises for all state employees are probably behind us. However, we need look at raises next year too,” Zearley said. “OPEA will again work with lawmakers who understand that Oklahoma must further improve compensation to retain and recruit quality employees. We certainly appreciate our friends in the legislature and governor’s office who support competitive compensation.”]]>