Legislature To Consider 1% Pay Raise For State And University Workers

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A legislative committee unanimously passed a plan making state and university workers eligible for 1 percent pay raises in each of the next two years.

The one-percent raises would be the first since 2008 for state and university employees. Two sessions ago, Governor Jim Doyle ordered unpaid furlough days for workers to balance the budget. Last session, Governor Scott Walker and Republicans avoided furloughs but got workers to pay more for benefits through Act 10.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Burlington, said tough times led to tough decisions.

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Vos: “But when times get better, you try to share the good decisions that get made with the people who are your investors – which would be shareholders in the private sector or taxpayers in the public sector – and your employees. And that’s what we’re doing here today.”

All Republicans and Democrats on a special legislative committee voted for the pay plan, though Senate Minority Leader Chris Larson, D-Milwaukee, noted the raises won’t come close to offsetting the increased contributions to health care and pensions required by Act 10. The Office of State Employment Relations says those contributions amounted to a 12-14 percent cut in take-home pay.

And while the raises are being called cost-of-living adjustments, they don’t keep pace with increases in the consumer price index, which the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission pegged at about 2 percent this year and 3 percent a year ago.

Wisconsin State Employees Union Director Marty Biel says the 1-percent raise is arbitrary.

Biel: “I think they set the 1% by throwing a dart at the dartboard. Or Walker just said, ‘That’s the amount of money I have; distribute it.’”

The move will cost state taxpayers about $43 million over the next couple years. For purposes of disclosure, the pay plan would affect employees of public broadcasting.

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