Audrey Spalding
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that state employees earning less than $70,000 per year will receive a 2 percent raise, starting in July. About 54,500 state employees will get the increase, and the total impact on the state budget is estimated at $45.5 million.

The narrative being used to sell this raise is that most Missouri employees have not received a raise for years. After reviewing state employee data posted on the Missouri Accountability Portal, I agree. It is true that some employees really have had exactly the same salary for years.

But awarding tens of thousands of employees the same pay increase, without considering performance or whether those employees have been some of the lucky few to receive raises, is irresponsible. Though some have not had a raise, many employees have received raises in recent years. Many of these wage increases (some associated with promotions) are larger than the touted 2 percent raise.

A better move would have been for Missouri legislators to award each state department a lump sum to use on employee pay as needed. If the department is having trouble motivating or retaining its employees, outstanding employees could be given more substantial raises. If the department desperately needs another employee, the money could be used to hire someone.

Furthermore, it can be quite difficult to fire public employees. It is likely that some of the employees among the 54,500 should not be awarded a raise, even a small one of 2 percent.

Employees should be rewarded for performance, instead of being awarded a small pay boost because legislators feel sympathetic.

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Audrey Spalding