AUSTIN (KXAN) — Hundreds of state employees are expected to rally outside the State Capitol Wednesday at noon, calling on lawmakers to provide a pay raise for state workers. Right now, the budget does not include a raise. The last raise for state employees was in 2015 when they received a 2.5 percent raise – at the same time their pension contribution went up by 2.6 percent.
The Texas State Employees Union is calling on lawmakers to use some of the $12 billion in the Rainy Day Fund to give state workers an across the board pay raise. They also want to see Governor Greg Abbott end the hiring freeze and budget cuts to state universities. Union representatives say pay has lagged behind for 30 years and it would take a pay raise of over $15,000 per year to get state workers back up to the 1987 standard of living.
While they don’t expect that big of an increase, workers hope to convince lawmakers that poor pay equals poor services for all Texans who rely on state agencies for everything from healthcare to improving our highway system.
“When there is a high turnover rate and the pay is not keeping good folks around then they are the ones who are going to suffer and that’s millions of Texans,” says Seth Hutchinson, Texas State Employees Union Vice President.
Joanne Day, a microbiologist with the Texas Department of State Health Services, has seen it firsthand and says even if you do a good job you aren’t guaranteed a raise.
“The only way to get a raise is to get a merit raise and since they don’t have enough funding to give everyone a merit raise some of us go years and years and years without any type of increase in compensation so that makes it hard to keep really great employees.”
KXAN contacted Senator Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, who heads the Senate Finance Committee for a comment on why there is no consideration of a pay increase this session but she was unavailable to provide a statement.
Senator José Menéndez, D-San Antonio, has introduced a bill that would put in a place a career ladder for state workers earning less than $75,000 a year. That bill has been referred to the business and commerce committee.