Senate keeps pay raise plan on first test-vote

By a two-vote margin, the state Senate upheld a proposed pay raise for state employees included in the Elementary and Secondary Education department's budget.

Last month, the House approved a 2-percent pay raise for all state employees earning $70,000 a year or less — which would cover 54,563 employees, or almost 97-percent of the state's workforce, according to the state's Office of Administration.

The Senate Appropriations Committee reduced that to a 2-percent raise for all state employees making $45,000 or less — 46,078 employees, or nearly 82 percent of the workforce.

Both proposals would start the raises when the new business year begins on July 1, while Gov. Jay Nixon's proposal last January was a 2-percent raise for all 56,420 employees — beginning next Jan. 1.

Senate Floor Leader Tom Dempsey, R-St. Charles, offered the amendment to eliminate the proposed raise, saying he thinks "we have too many state employees. ... The biggest changes I've seen (in government agencies) are in departments that the governor doesn't control."

The vote was 15 in favor of ending the pay raise proposal and 17 against.

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Mid-Missouri's three senators — Republicans Mike Kehoe, Jefferson City; Kurt Schaefer, Columbia (and the Appropriations chairman); and Dan Brown, Rolla — all voted against the proposal to eliminate the pay raises.

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