“ALL” State employees deserve a pay raise
“ALL” State employees deserve a pay raise
By Rev. Dr. R.B. Holmes, Jr., Pastor Bethel Missionary Baptist Church Tallahassee, FL
It is our responsibility to encourage our legislative leaders to do the right thing in the upcoming legislative session. All state employees deserve an across-the-board pay raise to correct past neglect and to ensure that we retain a qualified workforce. A decision can be made regarding granting performance or merit increases. These issues should not be a “one or the other decision.” This is not the time to have our dedicated teachers juxtaposed to other equally committed state employees for a pay raise. All state employees, including teachers, deserve a pay raise.
State employees are hired to protect the health, safety, and welfare of all the citizens in this state. State employees have answered the call. When there is a hurricane or some other natural disaster, our state employees are “first-responders.” When a child is missing or a crime is committed, our state employees do not stay at home. They are first in line, running to the scene! They de-serve a pay raise.
The Florida Legislature is mandated by the Florida Constitution to adopt a balanced budget every year. In fact, this is the major responsibility of our state elected officials when they come to Tallahassee each legislative session. During the last six sessions, however, some of our elected officials have chosen to balance the state budget on the backs of our hard-working, dedicated state employees by not granting a general pay adjustment. Adding insult to injury, state employees were forced to contribute three percent of their in-come into their retirement, further draining their household budgets.
During the 2012 legislative session, a $69.9 billion budget was ad-opted, yet some of our elected officials could not find it in their hearts to grant a pay raise for state employees. This action simply means that rewarding state employees has not been a priority for some of our elected officials. It is time for the State of Florida to stop taking state employees for granted!
It is understandable that budgetary constraints or revenue shortfalls over the last few years may have caused the Legislature to re-evaluate the role of state government and reassess and prioritize the programs that have been traditionally funded. Unfortunately, this situation has resulted in a reduction of services offered. The state employee workforce has dwindled; jobs have been outsourced in the name of efficiency; family incomes have suffered. Nevertheless, I guarantee you that while these streamlining efforts have been underway, millions of dollars were still earmarked for pet projects for key legislators!
Florida may be on track to be the third-most populous state, but in 2011, state governments nationwide reported an average of 213 state government employees per 10,000 residents, while Florida reported only 112 state government employees per 10,000 residents, the lowest ratio in the nation. That percentage is 47.4 percent less than the national average!!
Florida also spends less money on its state government workforce than any other state. According to the Department of Management Services, Florida’s 2011 payroll expenditure per state resident was $37, which is fifty percent less than the national average of state government payroll expenditures of $74.
When the Governor proposed an across-the-board pay raise for the state’s public school classroom teachers, I had to applaud him, but I wondered why was he not willing to recognize the contributions that all state employees are making? Not only have state employees been overlooked, but in some instances they have been made to feel insignificant and unnecessary by those who claim that state government is too big and needs to be downsized. Downsizing has taken place, regrettably, to the point of denying or not providing adequate services for our most needy and vulnerable citizens.
As the 2013 legislative session approaches, several bills have been introduced to address this situation. These proposed bills would give state employees a two percent, four percent, or up to a seven percent raise adjustment. There must be bi-partisan support for all of our state employees. Our voices need to be heard. We urge the governor and legislature to give pay raises to ALL of our state workers. It’s time to do the right thing!
January 30, 2013