Archive for Thursday, September 6, 2012

Panel OKs raises for public employees

The Kansas Statehouse is seen in downtown Topeka, Kan. Tuesday, June 23, 2009.

The Kansas Statehouse is seen in downtown Topeka, Kan. Tuesday, June 23, 2009.

September 6, 2012


TOPEKA — A committee overseeing state employee pay is recommending about $11.4 million in raises for underpaid state workers, with corrections officers at Kansas prisons among the groups benefiting most.

The Joint Committee on Employee Pay Plan Oversight on Tuesday recommended 7.5 percent raises for more than a thousand corrections officers. The funds were appropriated during the 2012 legislative session.

Corrections Secretary Ray Roberts told the committee the increases would bring officers who haven’t had a pay raise since 2009 closer to the market rate. Roberts said that out of seven states surveyed by his agency, only Oklahoma paid its corrections officers less than Kansas.

The pay raises are part of a state program to raise the pay of certain state employees closer to similar private-sector employees. This is the fourth year of a five-year program and the first since legislators suspended funding the increases last year over budget concerns.

The pay increases range from 5 percent to 12.5 percent and will go to 4,296 state employees, which is about a quarter of the state payroll. The committee’s recommendations now go to the State Finance Council for approval. The increase amounts were negotiated between the Department of Administration and state employee unions.

“I don’t have a lot to say except thank you for the money,” Mike Marvin, of the Kansas Organization of State Employees, told the committee.

Marvin said after the meeting that the union would keep working to get pay raises for other employees.

“It’s a step forward for basically 3,500 workers that KOSE represents,” Marvin said. “That means there’s probably another 5,500 that do not get a step forward.”

About 1,000 corrections officers are KOSE members. The committee’s recommendation allocates about $1.65 million to the Lansing prison, $1.04 million to El Dorado, $1.19 for Hutchinson and more than $400,000 to the five other smaller facilities and the Department of Corrections itself.

Juvenile Justice Authority employees would see increases, as well, with $455,155 split among 161 employees at the Kansas Juvenile Corrections Complex in Topeka and $205,775 for 60 employees at the Larned facility.

“This will go a long way toward helping the long-term employees of JJA that risk their lives every day,” Teamsters representative Matt Hall told the committee.

He said the pay increases would make the jobs more attractive and help retain and recruit staff, while alleviating the number of overtime hours being worked.

The Topeka juvenile complex was the subject of a critical audit released in July that found the facility had a 32 percent turnover rate among staff, the highest among Kansas correctional facilities in the past five years and a factor in a number of security problems.

“We try not to have too many of those situations where people work 16 hours (straight),” Roberts said. “But it always works better if you have sufficient staff.”

Sen. Vicki Schmidt, a Topeka Republican and chairwoman of the committee, said other reforms were needed to improve conditions at Topeka juvenile center, but pay raises to retain trained staff is “certainly a piece of the puzzle.”


Bobby Burch 5 years, 7 months ago

Definitely good to see these underpaid workers getting a well-deserved raise ... but didn't Brownback just slash the hell out of our state (taxes) revenue while simultaneously increasing spending? Hmmm ...

chootspa 5 years, 7 months ago

The magic of the market will magically magic the magic.....

Er, it's an excuse to cut spending on schoolchildren, the disabled, and worker pensions.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 7 months ago

But how will they pay for these raises, given the impending budget disaster created by the creeping elimination of the state income tax? (on wealthy taxpayers, anyway.)

chootspa 5 years, 7 months ago

By making the increased labor costs an excuse to privatize the prisons later on.

Cant_have_it_both_ways 5 years, 7 months ago

Lots of ways to pay for it. Reduce welfare checks, funding for public transportation... the list goes on and on.

Bobby Burch 5 years, 7 months ago

You mentioned two things. By all means, please continue your list.

parrothead8 5 years, 7 months ago

So we should give raises to people who don't make a lot of money by taking away the support for people who don't make any money? Support they count on, and that they paid into when they DID have a job? Yeah, that's fair.

Cant_have_it_both_ways 5 years, 7 months ago

It is amazing how generous people are with other peoples money. I choose to make myself valuable to my boss and in turn am rewarded.

paulveer 5 years, 7 months ago

So, you apparently can afford the necessities of life. Does this make you a more valuable human being than those who can't?

voevoda 5 years, 7 months ago

And all those people who are out of work were lazy and non-valuable? All 8% of the workforce?

deec 5 years, 7 months ago

And the 14 percent or so who are underemployed in part time jobs or jobs that don't use their education and skills. Are they only sort of valuable?

Gamerlife865 5 years, 7 months ago

As a corrections officer this is much of a relief......we get crap and urine thrown on us all the time....we get hit and also screamed at 8-16 hours a day....all for 13/ the only provider in my household.....getting that extra dollar and hour might not seem much but it makes a thank you Kansas

deec 5 years, 7 months ago

I don't know what you're making now, but the Nebraska prison in Tecumseh is starting at $14.49 per hour plus benefits.

There's not much in Tecumseh, but it's only an hour from Lincoln.

Steve Jacob 5 years, 7 months ago

Anyone who works at the jails need all the money they can get, it's tough work. Guessing the good ones quit, and the bad ones they can't fire because of under staffing, and then you have what happens at the Topeka Woman's Prison.

Tired2012 5 years, 7 months ago

This is a start. Now they need to raise it at the county level. I agree that they should take the money from welfare. 90% of the people who are on welfare eat better than I do and they sit around and drink all day and they have no desire to get a job.

I challenge people to walk a day in my shoes at the county jail. I have seen and broken up many fights and have been called several choice names. Thankfully I have not had feces thrown on me, but I think a raise is in order for the hard workers and no I haven't gotten a raise for my hard work since 2008. Hmmmm does that year ring a bell? It should. I'll let you figure that one out.

95% of the people I see come to the county jail are habitual violators. They have no desire to have a job, they are content on drinking, drugging, making babies for money and they live better than I do and have no responsibilities, oh and they steal my things that I have worked hard for just to get back out with a slap on thier wrists just to go do it again!

Just saying. Thanks for listening to my ranting.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 7 months ago

"90% of the people who are on welfare eat better than I do and they sit around and drink all day and they have no desire to get a job."

A statement like this is a tipoff that this is a fact-free rant. (and I saw no reason to read any further.)

deec 5 years, 7 months ago

But I thought we had to regulate what SNAP recipients can buy with benefits because they only eat junk food and trade their food stamps for smack and booze. How can they be eating better?

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