State employees haven't had much to cheer about lately Â lawmakers and Gov. Bill Graves failed to enact a pay raise this year Â but a new committee may find ways to improve their situations.
A state employee advisory committee is being formed to meet with members of the Graves administration.
Secretary of Administration Joyce Glasscock said she would seek input from the 15-member committee on ways to make state employment more attractive.
There are about 37,000 state employees, with two-thirds of them classified and one-third unclassified. At Kansas University, there are 1,500 faculty and 1,600 classified employees.
The idea for the committee came from legislation initiated last session by state Rep. Tom Sloan, R-Lawrence, Glasscock said.
Sloan's bill, which was co-sponsored by Rep. Troy Findley, D-Lawrence, was delayed in committee. But Glasscock said she was able to administratively carry out the major intent of the bill Â the establishment of a committee of state employees that could advise state officials.
"My expectation and hope is that the committee will look at more issues than just salaries," Sloan said. "State employees are underpaid, but the state also is experiencing financial difficulties, so we need to look at what else we can do with state employee issues."
Sloan nominated Mike Auchard, a general maintenance and repair technician at Kansas University who has served as president of the KU Classified Senate, to the committee.
Auchard said the success of the committee would depend on how much the administration listened to it.
"I think there needs to be a look at the whole civil service pay system," he said.
He said the recent lack of cost-of-living and longevity pay raises had been harmful to state employees, particularly new hires who have seen their take-home pay actually cut, because after a year of employment, they have to contribute to their retirement plan.
Committee appointments have been made, but state officials are firming up commitments from those appointees. Once those are completed, the committee will begin meeting, probably on a quarterly basis.