Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

Legislative News

February 20, 2008

Hilliard calls for pay raises

State Rep. Wes Hilliard urged his fellow lawmakers Monday to not rob Peter to pay Paul when it comes pay raises for state employees.

Echoing Gov. Brad Henry’s call for a pay raise for state employees, Hilliard said it was important for lawmakers not to deliver a “smoke screen” pay raise.

"I appreciate Governor Henry taking the opportunity during his 'State of the State' address to make special mention of state employees and his desire to give them a salary increase," Hilliard said in a news release Monday.

"Now we have to make sure that these state workers aren't made to pay for their own raise by either under funding agencies or scaling back the employees' benefit allowance."

Hilliard, D-Sulphur, and Rep. Brian Renegar, D-McAlester, are both calling for a a $2,700 across-the-board salary increase for state employees.

Both lawmakers noted that state employees have received “sparse” a pay increases in the last 10 years and at the time of the the last pay raise the price of gasoline was $1.50 per gallon and milk was $2.25 per gallon.

Hilliard said only a fully-funded pay raise should be passed by lawmakers, without any strings attached in the form of lowering employees’ benefits.

"Moving a $10 bill from your right pocket to your left is not a pay raise," he said. "These state workers have had to fight for every benefit they've been granted and should not have to self-fund a salary increase by reducing their benefit allowance."

Hilliard noted he has received numerous phone calls from state employees who have shared their stories with him.

"This pay raise needs to be passed so that these dedicated workers can continue to protect the public, care for our seniors and our children, and generally perform essential services to the taxpayers of Oklahoma. Our state employees are asking for a market wage, not extravagance.”

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