Budget chiefs sign off on state worker pay raisesby Dara Kam | April 27th, 2013
After six years without a raise, state workers will have a little more money in their pockets under salary increases signed off on by House and Senate leaders Saturday evening.
Under the plan, state employees who earn less than $40,000 will get a $1,400-a-year pay hike. Those earning more than $40,000 will see $1,000 increases. The average state worker salary in 2010 was about $48,000, but that includes highly paid employees such as university presidents and agency heads.
Senate budget chief Joe Negron, R-Stuart, said the $1,400 raises, about 3 percent, will go to the bulk of the state’s nearly 100,000 workers, who he said earn less than $40,000 a year.
The deal also includes one-time bonuses based on merit and performance of between $500 and $600 for about 35 percent of state workers, Negron said.
“Both sides wanted to recognize the fact that our coworkers in state government not only here in the Capitol but all throughout Florida work hard every day. We appreciate their contribution to state government to our fellow citizens,” Negron said at a Saturday evening meeting with his House counterpart Seth McKeel, R-Lakeland.
State workers last got a pay bump in 2007 with $1,000 bonuses. Their last salary increase was a 3 percent hike the previous year.
The latest deal inched lawmakers closer towards closing out negotiations over the $74 billion budget before the session ends on Friday. Gov. Rick Scott’s spending plan had included merit-based raises only. And lawmakers still haven’t conceded to his demand for $2,500 across-the-board hikes for teachers.
Negron also did a turn-around on what was considered to be a settled item regarding license tags. Last night, the House and Senate agreed to put out to bid a contract for the tags which have been manufactured by PRIDE, a private company that uses inmates, for the past three decades. The House had wanted Prison Rehabilitative Industries and Diversified Enterprises Inc. to keep the contract.
But Saturday morning, Negron said the Senate changed its mind thanks to intense lobbying by some of his colleagues.
“One of the benefits of the conference process is it enables all of us to take a final look at each of these issues and get input from members of the conference both from those who are able to be here in person and also those who are able to talk to us by phone,” Negron said.
He said “a number of senators” called to say that PRIDE has “a long and distinguished track record of working with inmates helping them to gain employment skills, life skills and other things they will need when they complete their sentence to become productive members of society who can get and keep jobs.”
Negron didn’t elaborate about the availability of post-incarceration license tag-producing jobs.
Negron and McKeel were expected to meet late Saturday evening to discuss water and beach renourishment projects.