Hey state workers: How do you like your new gov now? Beshear proposes smaller wage increase than Fletcher's program
One of Steve Beshear's most hardened constituencies last fall was the collective body of people known as state merit employees.
Upset because the General Assembly had failed to give them 5 percent increases during Ernie Fletcher's term, and fueled by the lies that that the Fletcher administration had illegally fired hundreds of their fellow merit workers (not true in the least), it's pretty widely held that the bulk of the state employee vote went to Beshear.
They believed that state employees would be valued and the merit system respected under the new governor (despite Beshear's history as attorney general, when he turned his back on the illegal termination of merit employees by the Brown administration), and they also believed their value would be rewarded through the statutory 5 percent raises.
Last night, state employees got theirs when Beshear unveiled his biennial budget.
Under Fletcher, state employees did not get an across-the-board percentage raise. Instead, Fletcher embarked on an ambitious wage equity program to increase the salaries of the lowest-paid state workers. Other workers got a lump-sum pay increase based on a sliding scale, from $1,350 for those making less than $30,000 to $400 for those making more than $80,000 annually.
State employees may not believe it, but unless they make more than $50,000 per year, they were better off under the Fletcher administration.
The lump sum increases given to workers making $50K and below on Fletcher's watch amount to more than the 2 percent raises Beshear's proposing. In fact, Fletcher's raises for those under the $30K level were more than twice what those lowest-paid workers will get under Beshear. An employee making 40 grand a year will get a raise of only two-thirds what he or she got under Fletcher.
Beshear's raise benefits only the highest-paid state workers. An employee making $60,000 a year got a $600 annual raise under Fletcher, but will get twice that from Beshear. And if you're in the top tier, making more than $80,000 annually, you got $400 under Fletcher but will get at least $1,600 from Beshear.
And we thought the Democrats were the party that looked after the poorest among us.
State employees shouldn't go crying to their legislators, wanting more. Back last fall, even before Steve Beshear manufactured this budget crisis to help make his case for casino gambling, Jody Richards was brushing off requests that the legislature fully fund the legally-mandated 5 percent increment.
Once again, state employees have been used and abused. Like most Democrat governors before him, Beshear used them during the election but has now discarded them like a used condom. Unfortunately, state workers have short memories and will probably be lining up again in four years to support Beshear over whomever the GOP challenger is.