Archive for Tuesday, April 22, 2014

State workers’ pay an issue for Kansas lawmakers

April 22, 2014, 1:49 p.m. Updated April 22, 2014, 4:05 p.m.


— Kansas legislators are considering proposals to give state workers modest salary increases but end their guaranteed longevity bonuses, and a union official said Tuesday that the combination could lower the pay of many employees.

The Republican-dominated Senate and House budget committees have drafted alternatives to GOP Gov. Sam Brownback's plan to give the state civil service employees a 1.5 percent salary increase, the first boost since 2009.

Both committee plans would repeal a requirement for longevity bonuses for state workers with 10 or more years of experience, allowing agencies to forgo the payments. Such workers receive an additional $40 for each year they've worked, up to $1,000 a year.

The Senate Ways and Means Committee touched on employees' pay Tuesday as it reviewed budget issues still facing lawmakers, without taking action. The Legislature ends its annual spring break April 30, returning to the Statehouse to wrap up its business for the year.

Rebecca Proctor, executive director of the Kansas Organization of State Employees, said workers see their guaranteed longevity bonuses as "the only thing we can rely on" when lawmakers haven't approved across-the-board raises.

"A lot of the employees really count on this money," she said.

The state has almost 13,700 permanent civil service employees outside its university system and another 3,700 employees outside the civil service system, according to the Department of Administration.

The budget committees drafted the proposals to end guaranteed longevity bonuses as lawmakers worked earlier this month to meet a Kansas Supreme Court mandate in an education funding lawsuit to boost aid to poor school districts. If agencies stopped making the payments to employees, the state would save about $8 million a year.

"We were scrambling for dollars," said Senate Ways and Means Committee Chairman Ty Masterson, an Andover Republican.

But state officials and university economists last week issued new, more optimistic revenue projections, making legislators more receptive to pay raises for state workers.

"It's still in play," said Sen. Jim Denning, an Overland Park Republican who serves on the Ways and Means Committee. "They haven't had anything for so many years that I would be supportive of giving them something."

The House Appropriations Committee's plan would boost the pay of civil service workers earning $35,000 or less a year by 3 percent and provide smaller raises for others, with the highest-paid employees receiving a 0.5 percent raise.

The Senate committee's proposal would increase full-time state workers' pay by $300 annually through an extra once-a-year check. Part-time workers, including lawmakers, would receive an additional $150 a year.

Masterson said the aim is to give the lowest-paid workers the largest percentage pay raises.

But Proctor noted that if state agencies stop paying longevity bonuses, any employee with 10 or more years of experience would lose at least $400 a year — more than the pay raise promised by the Senate plan.

Sen. Laura Kelly of Topeka, the ranking Democrat on the Ways and Means Committee, said even Brownback's proposal is "insignificant" because state workers haven't seen a raise in five years.

"That should be a priority of the state, to pay fair wages to folks who are doing the work," Kelly said.


Amy Varoli Elliott 4 years, 2 months ago

Don't worry soon they will all be working at the federal poverty line, with inflation their actually income falls every year while that state waste millions to defended illegal bills passed.

Richard Heckler 4 years, 2 months ago

Wonder where those tax dollars are going? If not for raises and bonus for workers?

To cover the cost of a $1.1 billion tax break, which benefits mostly upper-income Kansans enacted in 2012.

What a waste of tax dollars. Brownback learned so much while bumming off taxpayers in Washington,D.C.

Thomas Bryce Jr. 4 years, 2 months ago

The University of Kansas has already done away with Longevity Bonuses. It was part of a Restructuring By Huron. I have been at KU for 19 Years. I have never seen the Employee turnover Rate higher than it is right now and the amount of Qualified applicants willing to work for such low wages is nearly non existent. Removal of benefits like Longevity did not help. People with Years of experience were Bought out or shown the door. No effort was made to retain the Knowledge these people accrued over Many years. This is the Pattern. The Higher ups have either no Idea what we Do in order to take Care Of such a Massive Institution or they simply do not care. It seems they think "Anybody can do YOUR job. Don't like that? We can replace YOU!" Be my Guest if you can find someone with 19 years expertise in Multiple Trades that will work for Minimum Wage in The Skilled Trades. They even admitted they will not pay what Private sector Pay. Luckily for them, I was a Soldier. I have a sense of Duty towards the University. I believe It is a higher Good that I serve. Not everyone feels that way. Of course I wish I made More money. Just want enough to make ends meet. Good luck to all you New workers. Looking forward to retirement (If I make it there).

Richard Heckler 4 years, 2 months ago

When the majority of the legislature fails to challenge a governor when the governor is working behind closed closed doors then the majority must go.

The governor was not elected to dictate and force the closing of public schools or any other activity based on a personal right wing fascist viewpoint. A legislature blindly following a governor presents quite a dangerous situation. This is what killed the GOP.

"The United States of ALEC," a special report by legendary journalist Bill Moyers on how the secretive American Legislative Exchange Council has helped corporate America propose and even draft legislation for states across the country.

ALEC brings together major U.S. corporations and right-wing legislators to craft and vote on "model" bills behind closed doors. It has come under increasing scrutiny for its role in promoting voter suppression bills, union-busting policies and other controversial legislation.

Although billing itself as a "nonpartisan public-private partnership," ALEC is actually a national network of state politicians and powerful corporations principally concerned with increasing corporate profits without public scrutiny.

Larry Sturm 4 years, 2 months ago

Yes give the billionaire Koch brothers and Wal-Mart and few other of the rich tax cuts and don't give the state workers a raise for 5 years. SAM BROWNBACK-KOCH AND THE KOCH BROTHERS LEGISLATURE ARE BAD FOR KANSAS.

Brock Masters 4 years, 2 months ago

You get what you pay for. Want to retain good employees then you need to fairly compensate them.

State employees deserve a raise.

William Weissbeck 4 years, 2 months ago

Better suggestion: just give the state workers the bag a peanuts and a voucher for Wal-Mart - it would be worth more. This last Great Recession has set a dangerous precedent. Companies became more profitable, but workers are told to no longer expect raises. What about the "moral" obligation that the workers get a raise before the CEO does? The alternative is far more destructive - hours and pay are cut during the recession to save their jobs, and pay is not increased coming out of the recession because higher unemployment has created an over supply of labor. The worker never catches up.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 4 years, 2 months ago

You have hit the nail on the head. It used to be that workers were considered an important part of the company. If the company did well, then the employees were rewarded too. Now they are just considered unwanted necessities. There are no morals in business, except the moral of the new US religion - Money. Anything that make more money is moral. Our state government is giving the workers the message that people with a lot of money need more money, and that mere state workers are not as important. Even someone who has high values when treated like this, will not want to work as hard. And many will be looking for other work. But they have kept unemployment high enough that most won't be able to find other jobs. How many companies have enough money to hire more people, but they continue to make their employees do the job of 2 people. Why? So they can keep more money for themselves, and because a high unemployment rate allows them to treat workers poorly.

Jack Martin 4 years, 2 months ago

At KU, longevity pay and market inequity are both being addressed thanks to legislation passed several years ago allowing KU to separate from the state’s personnel system. It is worth noting that the five other Regents institutions will be following KU’s lead effective July 1, 2014.

Effective November, 2013, those employees who are covered by a collective bargaining unit had their annual longevity pay bonus added to their annual base salary, so they now receive that pay in each paycheck. This was a change agreed upon as part of negotiations with the unions representing employees covered by collective bargaining. Employees who are not covered by a collective bargaining unit continue to receive an annual lump-sum longevity bonus.

In addition, KU’s ongoing Classification & Market Study, which is a review and redesign of our employee and compensation system, has so far completed two phases of its evaluation of all staff positions at KU. Any staff positions that are below a market salary are being raised to market rates. During the initial phase, the average increase for current positions was $1,377. For positions in the skilled trades, service, and maintenance area the average increase was $2,263. A total of 612 staff members were in positions benefiting from increases during the initial phase.

Thomas Bryce Jr. 4 years, 1 month ago

For Employees covered by Collective bargaining, was this Action of Rolling their Longevity pay into their base salary a one time thing or will this continue to happen annually?If not ,then Longevity is indeed no longer a benefit at KU. I am happy for those individuals that received a substantial increase in their Pay. I only saw half of what your Average shows after 19 years as a Multi Tradesman. And that was preceded by many years of No increases. Hard work and Knowledge used to be rewarded. Not any more. Hardwork just leaves you with multiple injuries and Surgeries that have you hoping you at least make it to retirement Alive.As for Knowledge, well.. I am sure there is an App. For that now.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.