This week was another legislative deadline. House bills must have passed the senate floor by the end of business on Thursday and vice versa for Senate bills. This is the second to last hurdle for our remaining legislation. The final hurdle is the governor’s decision to sign a bill or veto it.
Governor Stitt has vetoed SB 176 this week. This legislation simply extended pandemic the leave rollover policy Stitt signed into law last session. OPEA Executive Director Sterling Zearley said “We are disappointed that SB 176 was vetoed. Currently, Oklahoma State employees can roll over 480 hours of leave each year. This legislation was simply an extension of a policy signed into law last year to allow Oklahoma State Employees to roll over leave hours in excess of 480 for an additional year due to the impact of COVID-19. Oklahoma State employees have been stretched thinner than ever before since the start of the pandemic in March 2020. Therefore, many employees have been unable to use their earned leave due to the critical staffing levels paired with the pandemic response.”
Historically Governor Stitt has signed most of OPEA’s priority legislation, but he also has a reputation for vetoing some of our lower priority legislation such as he did this week. Currently, the following OPEA legislation is awaiting his signature:
HB 3709 – Provides a service credit within various state retirement systems for veterans.
HB 3422 – Market-Based Pay Program
The last task for this legislative session is to pass a state budget. The budget negotiations are well underway and we will continue advocating for Oklahoma state employees in the state budget. Our goal for the state budget first and foremost is to secure a pay raise for Oklahoma State Employees. You have seen our calls to action regarding the 3% pay raise (HB 3671), and it looks likely that that bill will stop where it is and any state employee pay raise will be done in the state budget. Regardless if the bill passed the senate or not the 3% pay raise would have to be negotiated in the state budget. OPEA has learned that the legislature thinks a 3% across-the-board pay raise is likely to not happen. However, they want to increase the raise percentage and target the pay raises to positions that have not gotten recent market-based adjustments from their agency like DHS, ODOT, DOC, and OHP have done in late 2021 and early this year. If you want a pay raise I encourage everyone to call their elected officials and ask them to include a state employee pay raise in the budget.
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