Missouri governor proposes $15 minimum pay for state workers

December 6, 2021 GMT

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri state employees would get a 5.5% pay raise and earn at least $15 an hour under a proposal put forth Monday by Gov. Mike Parson to try to make the state a more attractive place to work.

Missouri’s employees are among the lowest paid nationally, and many positions across state government are experiencing high vacancy and turnover rates.

“It is past time for us to make these investments in our state workforce,” the Republican governor said in a statement.

Parson’s pay plan would take effect Feb. 1 but first needs the approval of state lawmakers, whose annual session begins in January. The pay increase would cost $91 million for the remainder of the 2022 fiscal year that ends in June and an additional $218 million for the next budget year. More than half of that money would come from general state revenues, with the rest from other sources.

Missouri is not hurting for money. The state ended its 2021 fiscal year in June with a record cash balance of $2.4 billion. Part of that was due to a pandemic budget technicality that allowed some 2020 income tax payments to be delayed into the 2021 budget year. But economic indicators show Missouri’s revenues have continued to fare well.

Sales tax revenues in November were up 22% over the same month a year ago, according to figures released Monday by the Office of Administration. Individual income tax collections for last month were up 20% over November 2020.

Parson’s newly proposed pay raise for state employees would be in addition to a 2% increase already scheduled to take effect in January. While setting a base wage of $15 an hour, the plan also would adjust the pay for other workers to lessen the compression of the pay scale. The governor described the additional 5.5% pay raise as a cost-of-living increase.

Parson said the state’s direct-care staff and front-line workers often make less than those in entry-level retail positions in the private sector. Among the lowest paid state employees are highway workers, attendants in veterans’ nursing homes and residential aides for vulnerable children, he said.

Parson’s announcement included supportive written statements from the Republican chairmen of the House and Senate budget-writing committees.