After putting up with the same salary for the past four years, and even enduring pay cuts and furloughs during times of recession, state workers of Colorado are finally getting the pay raise they’ve been asking for. And it might even be bigger than they expected.
It’s a good news this start of the year for Colorado state employees. The state shows another sign of fiscal recovery as Gov. John Hickenlooper proposes a 1.5% increase in state workers salary.
November last year, Hickenlooper already recommended a $20.3 billion budget for fiscal year 2013-2014. The proposed state budget was “the most robust spending plan presented since before the Great Recession” and was expected to add more money to schools and colleges, give seniors a property tax break, and provide state employees pay raises of up to 1.5%.
This time the Gov. Hickenlooper also recommended coupling that pay raise with a 1.5% merit increase and a 0.6%.
But the good news just might be better for state employees as some lawmakers proposed an even bigger increase.
Just last year member of the Joint Budget Committee are divided on how much to slash off state employees paychecks, this time both parties in the committee are debating on by how much to increase state workers’ salary.
Democrat Hickenlooper’s proposed increase package would cost $39.9 million from the state’s general fund but $83 million total when counting all funding sources such as federal and cash funds.
Joint Budget Committee, Rep. Crisanta Duran of D-Denver, however, thinks the salary hike should be at 2.0% instead of 1.5%. Her recommendation would increase the general-fund cost of the raise package by $4.1 million and bring the total up by another $8.1 million. Duran believes that state employees’ salaries fall way behind their counterparts in private sectors by as much as 6.7%. Studies done by a Colorado workers union however, show that the discrepancy is by as much as 9%.
State Sen. Kent Lambert of R-Colorado Springs, on the other hand, questioned the figure and showed support for the former increase proposal.
In the end, and after much deliberation, the higher pay raise was approved. The figure was approved on a 4-2 vote, with the only dissent coming from the two Republicans on the committee. And though the entire package adjustment for state employees is yet to be approved by the full legislature, state employees are already pleased at the Committee meeting’s turnout.
Patty Moore, president of Colorado Workers for Innovations and New Solutions (WINS), a union representing more than 31,000 state employees thinks the Joint Budget Committee did the right thing. In a quick comment, she said: “This is a step in the right direction after years of doing more with less.”
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