As we approach the deadline for the state House and Senate to vote on bills from opposite chambers one catching heat on the floor is a pay raise for state employees.
This proposal was broken down into three amendments and though it is drawing support from both sides, those employed by the state are going to have to wait to see more in their pay check.
The pay raise proposals were all tabled in the House, leaving some representatives outraged.
“To say no to about 22,000 people who earn less than $25,000 a year when a lot of people up here making these decisions are living high on the hog I think that’s deplorable to be honest with you,” Democrat Representative Omeria Scott of Jones County said.
Under the amendments purposed by Representative Scott, state employees making less than $25000 a year would receive a $2500 raise. Those making $25,000-$35,000 a year would get a $1500 raise and those making $35,000-$50,000 would see $1,000 more in their paycheck.
While anyone making more than $50,000 a year would see a raise of $500.
“I felt like the house should have taken a position on what we thought should be the bottom line,” Rep. Scott continued. “And there should be a bottom line for those employees that are on food stamps.”
Republican Representative John Read of Jackson County however supported the vote to table the state employee pay raise amendments, believing legislators need more time to sort through state funds before a final vote.
“Trying to get raises to teachers, we’re trying to get raises to state employees, we’re trying to realign that, we’re trying to get raises to community college and IHL employees and we have a number,” Rep. Read told us. “Well the number that came on the amendment day we do not have the money.”
Representative Scott disagrees pointing to hundreds of millions in the general fund while her pay raise amendments would only cost $16.5 Million
“We have over $400 million in the general fund, and we have $390 million in other funds, and then we’ll get a 10 million installment from the BP settlement,” Scott explained. “So we have the money, it’s whether we have the will to give state employees a pay raise.”
Representative Read also said spending money one time on a reoccurring expense could mean economic trouble down the road.
Future debates on the state employee pay raise will now be discussed with Senators and Representatives next week.