OKLAHOMA CITY – A measure that would boost state employee salaries to 90 percent of private-sector pay over a four-year period cleared the House of Representatives today.
“The State of Oklahoma is losing skilled and educated employees to retirement and the private sector,” said House Bill 3293 author Rep. Leslie Osborn, R-Mustang. “Our state agencies need productive minds and ingenuity to fill those gaps, provide better services and address the problems of the future. Competitive wages will greatly enhance the state’s ability to choose from the top recruits.”
HB3293 would set aside 3 percent of the previous fiscal year’s payroll costs for salary adjustments each year. The bill would also remove salary structures from statute and give authority to the Office of Management Enterprise Services to set pay structures and determine if targeted pay band adjustments are necessary, rather than the state doling out across-the-board pay raises as in years past.
House Speaker Jeff Hickman praised House Bill 3293, calling it a commitment to attracting and retaining quality employees who will provide efficient services to the people of Oklahoma.
“As stewards of the taxpayers’ money, it is our duty to provide core government services in a cost effective and productive manner,” said House Speaker Hickman, R-Fairview. “To do so, we need to attract hard-working and skilled employees with competitive compensation. By investing in those who choose to serve, we will be capable of providing a better product to the people of Oklahoma.”
A recent study requested by the governor and state leaders found state employee salaries to be up to 20 percent below market, particularly in the areas of public safety, corrections and social services.
“The Oklahoma legislature must improve state employee salaries this year if it wants the people of Oklahoma to continue to receive quality services from our state employees,” said Sterling Zearley, Executive Director of Oklahoma Public Employees Association. “For several years, state employees were asked to do more with less and they did. However, we have neglected state employee pay for too long leading to high turnover rates and short staffing for correctional centers, DHS offices, veteran’s centers and other locations providing core services. We appreciate the Speaker of the House and House members making employee compensation a top priority for this session and will continue to work with them through the process.”
HB 1716 now moves to the Senate for consideration.