Thursday, July 4, 2013

Weekly Newspaper Column - State Employee Pay Raises

Looking back at the progress that was made this past legislative session it is easy to see the successes, but I also realize that there is always more to accomplish. We should never be willing to accept the status quo as a state. Over this summer, lawmakers are going to be outlining some of the major issues that we will deal with next year. This time will be filled with interim studies and task forces to make sure the policies that we look at are in the best interest of Oklahoma.

One issue left undone this session was a pay raise for State employees. State employees have gone almost a decade without any sort of pay raise, while at the same time their insurance premiums and cost of living have been raised significantly. This year, unfortunately, the issue became a political football that was passed back and forth between legislative chambers. As session drew to a close it actually looked like some sort of deal might be struck between leadership of the House, Senate, and the Governor’s office that would provide a pay raise. Unfortunately, politics prevailed and nothing was done. This issue will be a major topic of discussion throughout the interim as we try to work a deal out. This next year is an election year, so it will be extremely interesting to see what happens on both sides.

Throughout the course of the session I voted for some type of pay raise to our state workers at least four times. I personally believe we owe it to many of our fine employees and the jobs that they do. As we study this issue even more this summer, I do believe we need to visit several different aspects of how our state employees would be given this raise. Our state currently has a merit system that is used to some extent, but I believe needs to be reviewed. We must make sure that instead of blindly giving a pay raise to the tune of millions of dollars, we quantify that this pay raise is deserved for every position. In my discussions with state workers they could not agree more. If we have a merit system, let’s make sure it is used properly and it is effective. Despite what is commonly taught, not everyone is a “winner”, and if you do not deserve a pay raise then you should not receive one. The reason we call it a merit system is because it is based on earning rewards. When we do that for our state, everyone wins. As stated before, it will be extremely interesting to see what happens.

It is my honor to serve you! If I can ever be of assistance to you, please don’t hesitate to contact me. Email me at: Call my office at (405) 557-7349. Follow me on Facebook: Representative Josh Cockroft, and on Twitter: @VoteCockroft27.    

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