Archive for Friday, March 30, 2007

State worker pay raises hinder budget negotiations

March 30, 2007


— State budget negotiations crashed Thursday after a testy exchange between key leaders in the House and Senate as the Legislature neared adjournment.

One of the main sticking points was over different proposals to increase state employee pay.

"I'm not going to sit here without any progress," said House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Sharon Schwartz, R-Washington.

"We can go home without a budget," she said, accusing the Senate of failing to compromise.

But Senate Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dwayne Umbarger, R-Thayer, said it was the House side that was holding things up.

Umbarger said he has asked legislative staff to draw up a "scorecard" of the budget work so far, and he said that list will show the Senate has compromised on many positions.

"I don't believe this is about a scorecard," Schwartz shot back.

The two sides adjourned until Monday, losing valuable time to craft a state budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1. The legislative session adjourns Tuesday before coming back April 25 for a wrap-up session.

One of the impasses between the House and Senate was over a pay increase for state employees.

House Republicans have proposed a 1 percent salary increase, $1,450 one-time salary bonus and an additional 5 percent increase for those whose job classes are substantially below the average market pay, according to a recent study.

But the Senate has offered a 3 percent pay raise and additional 5 percent increase to those way below market average.

"We have a real problem with the bonus payments," Umbarger said. He said since the bonuses aren't put in the base salary, they aren't as beneficial to workers as is a higher percentage pay raise.

But Rep. Lee Tafanelli, R-Ozawkie, and vice chairman of the Appropriations Committee, said the bonuses are seen as a temporary way to help state workers while the state creates a better pay classification system.


Lucky 11 years, 2 months ago

It appears that yet another legislative session will pass with nothing done to address the growing shortfall in the State of Kansas employee retirement fund (KEPRS), which now exceeds $5 billion.

I guess the State Legislators want our children to pay higher taxes in order to fund these retirement benefits.

This is a very sad situation.

Wilbur_Nether 11 years, 2 months ago

The proposed one-time bonus would be taxed at a much higher rate than a salary increase, meaning that the Feds and the State would take a lot of what the House is saying would help the employees.

shockchalk 11 years, 2 months ago

You are right Wilbur. The bonus is a one-time shot so they really aren't trying to help the employees with their plan. The senate has already dropped the 4% to 3% according to the last article I read. At least they are trying to compromise.

Wilbur_Nether 11 years, 2 months ago

I thought this was a tax-avoidant legislature....

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