Possible Pay Increase for State Employees

FRANKFORT, Ky. — State employees could be seeing pay increases.

The House State Government Committee gave unanimous approval to House Bill 143 Thursday.

The bill sponsored by Rep. James Tipton, R-Taylorsville, would provide a cost of living adjustment increase for all state employees.

The increases would be based on the average of the consumer price index for the next two years. That would mean employees would see an increase of 2.25%.

While this bill names only state employees, legislative and judicial staffers would also receive a COLA increase.

The increases would only be awarded if the state has the money available in the budget.

“We have to have to have the funds to do this if you have looked at the governor’s proposed budget the governor’s proposed budget does include a one percent increase for the next biennium,” Tipton explained to the committee. “Just because we pass it in the statute does not mean we are going to be able, and I want everyone to understand this up front, that we’re going to be able necessarily to do this, we still have the limitations of finance.”

Lawmakers in the committee said it was incumbent on them to ensure they have funds to provide the pay increases.

“I hope when we’re drafting the budget this year, I know you and I will be working on it very hard and already are, that we work very diligently to try and get this in there for these employees,” said Rep. Jason Nemes, R-Louisville.

State law already provides for a five percent pay increase annually for state employees but they have not received the increase since 2001.

Supporters of the bill say this will help attract and retain quality workers.

“We think that bypassing this it will really help us as state employees to attract and retain the talented workforce that we need which we have really struggled with over the past decade,” said Brent Sweger, a Kentucky Transportation Cabinet employee. “In the end, this is really about providing sustainable wages for state government workforce and this is so we can provide the services needed for citizens all across Kentucky.”

Passage of the bill could also help increase funding to the state’s massively underfunded pension system.

“The one percent gets us about $17 million in the first year and about $36 million in the second year, and it’s not enough but it will help if we could do this, if we can do this we could get even more,” said Rep. Joe Graviss, D-Versailles. “It’s the payroll growth that has the biggest impact on the ARC and driving that down for everybody’s benefit.”

The bill passed out of the committee but it will likely be sent to the House Appropriation and Revenue Committee before it’s sent to the House floor for a vote.