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Gov. Parson’s plan to give state workers a pay raise wins support from Missouri Senate leadership

Senate President Pro Tem Caleb Rowden, R-Columbia, gives an address after being sworn in on Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2023, during the first day of the legislative session at the Missouri State Capitol in Jefferson City.
Brian Munoz
St. Louis Public Radio
Senate President Pro Tem Caleb Rowden, R-Columbia, gives an address after being sworn in on Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2023, during the first day of the legislative session at the Missouri State Capitol in Jefferson City.

Both the Senate President Pro Tem and Senate Minority leader agree that Missouri needs to pay state workers more. Whether they go with exactly Gov. Mike Parson’s proposed plan is yet to be determined.

Republican and Democratic Missouri Senate leadership agree with Gov. Mike Parson that state workers need another pay raise.

What those raises could look like is yet to be finalized, but Parson already has submitted his plan.

Under Parson’s proposal, which was announced Wednesday, state workers would see an 8.7% cost of living adjustment. Additionally, some workers in certain departments would see a $2 per hour increase for working late or overnight shifts.

Those qualified for that additional raise include certain staff within the departments of Social Services, Corrections, Mental Health and the Missouri Veterans Commission.

Parson said it’s an attempt by the state to remain competitive in the job market. The recommendations will be included in the proposed supplemental budget and must gain legislative approval.

If the plan is approved, it would go into effect this fiscal year, which ends in June.

Senate President Pro Tem Caleb Rowden, R-Columbia, agreed there is a justification for raising state worker pay and doesn’t think Parson’s plan threatens the private sector.

“You got to do something. Clearly, we have a workforce at the state level that does a lot of important things for a lot of people. So we'll see how it goes. I don't know what the House's view of it, but certainly, I think we're headed in the right direction,” Rowden said Thursday.

Senate Minority Leader John Rizzo, D-Independence, said he’s in support of any raise plan including Parson’s, but that most Republican plans are not going to go as far as Democrats would like.

“I think that we've got to get to that baseline before we can be competitive and I don't know if they get us there or not, but some of the proposals I've seen for Republicans, it does not,” Rizzo said.

The announcement came a week before the governor’s State of the State address, where he will further outline his budgetary priorities for the upcoming fiscal year.

As far as what else Parson will mention during his address, Rowden said he’s again expecting to hear the governor speak on workforce development and infrastructure

On infrastructure, Rowden said improving Interstate 70 is important to him and should matter to everybody because of the ongoing concerns with it.

With Missouri’s surplus and the recent U.S. Congressional committee appointments of Missouri Reps. Jason Smith and Sam Graves as heads of Ways and Means and Transportation and Infrastructure, respectively, now is a good time to look at Missouri’s infrastructure, he said.

“This is a moment that we're never gonna have, again, frankly, or at least not anytime soon,” Rowden said. “So whatever that thing ends up being, and certainly I think I-70 probably rises to the top of a lot of lists just because of its ongoing issues, now is the right time to strike.”

Another policy area Parson is expected to speak on is childcare, which is likely to see bipartisan cooperation this year.

Rizzo said he’s glad to see Republicans are coming to their side of the table on the importance of childcare.

“Everybody wants to talk about jobs and workforce and everything else. Well, you have to be able to have a place for your children, if you want to go work,” Rizzo said.

Parson’s State of the State address is scheduled for 3 p.m. Wednesday.

Copyright 2023 St. Louis Public Radio. To see more, visit St. Louis Public Radio.

Sarah Kellogg is St. Louis Public Radio’s Statehouse and Politics Reporter, taking on the position in August 2021. Sarah is from the St. Louis area and even served as a newsroom intern for St. Louis Public Radio back in 2015.
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