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Archive for Monday, February 6, 1995

CLASSIFIED LOBBYING

February 6, 1995

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State civil service employees from KU will head to the Capitol on Tuesday, knowing they have a difficult task ahead of them.

Kansas University mason Mike Auchard will lobby Tuesday in the Statehouse to build support for better classified employee salaries and benefits.

Auchard, president of KU Classified Senate, represents 1,716 university employees. His delegation of civil service workers plans to meet with a dozen legislators to press a 17-point agenda.

"Given what has happened ... we will have a difficult time convincing people of some of it," he said.

State classified employees adopted their position paper before the House endorsed a tax cut of about $100 million. Revenue shrinkage also diminishes prospects for robust pay raises for state workers.

Auchard said classified employees' top priority was a 4.5 percent cost-of-living adjustment on July 1.

"The problem with the cost of living is we keep falling behind the rate of inflation," he said. "Right now, probably a good-case scenario is the governor's recommendation."

Gov. Bill Graves proposed a 1 percent cost-of-living adjustment, 2.5 percent increase in the pay scale and longevity payments of $40 per year of service to employees with 10 years on the job.

Auchard said the delegation also would support repeal of a law that prohibits classified workers from running for state political office.

"Currently, state employees have no opportunity to have a voice in state government," Auchard said. "We consider it a limitation on our rights."

State employees not in the civil service system -- KU faculty, for example -- aren't required to resign before becoming a candidate for office. Rep. Barbara Ballard, D-Lawrence, serves in the Legislature while retaining her job as KU associate dean of student life.

A bill sponsored by Rep. Tom Sloan, R-Lawrence, would abolish the law. It's scheduled for hearing Wednesday in the House Governmental Organization and Elections Committee.

Auchard said classified employees would seek a tuition waiver for up to seven credit hours of courses each semester at a state university.

"What we're trying to do is say, 'If we're not going to get compensated well, why not increase some of the benefits?'"

He said classified employees would oppose legislative efforts to tax state employee pensions. He said any tax must be matched by an increase in the state's contribution to retirement plans.

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