State employees call on legislators to step up following pay increase to staff instead of employees

Published: Oct. 30, 2021 at 3:14 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - The Kansas legislature is being called on by state employees to do the right thing after the legislative staff was given a 5% raise for the upcoming session while state employees have not gotten one in over a decade.

American Federation of Teachers - Kansas said this week, the Legislative Coordinating Council approved a 5% raise for all legislative staff during the upcoming 2022 session and a $250 retention bonus for all staffers who continue from the 2021 session. It said the decision comes after Kansas Senate and House leadership removed a modest and long overdue 2.5% pay raise for all state employees from the budget.

“All Kansas state agencies are facing major staff shortages. We have urged the legislature time and time again to provide increased funding to attract and retain quality workers in our state prisons, hospitals, road crews, and offices,” said AFT-Kansas and Kansas Organization of State Employees President Sarah LaFrenz.

LaFrenz said in some cases inmates are making more than officers.

“We now have a problem where some inmates are making more than the corrections officers at their facilities. Workers at state hospitals and prisons are literally dying from being overworked at those facilities, including two just this month,” she said.

LaFrenz said staffing-related issues such as unrealistic workloads, burnout, mandatory overtime and low retention rates continue to plague every state agency. She said employees are clearly overdue for these legislators to do the right thing by them.

“Tuesday’s LCC meeting demonstrated that legislators know how to fill vacant positions and retain their staff, and that there is in fact money to provide state employees a well-deserved raise. The only thing seemingly lacking is the political will of our elected officials to recognize the service and sacrifices of their working constituents.”

AFT-Kansas said state employees have only gotten one general raise in over 10 years. In the 2021 legislative session, it said the legislature approved of hundreds of millions of dollars in tax breaks for corporations, however, they could not find money in the budget for state employees despite the challenging and essential work they do for the state, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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