With state employees having received only two pay increases in the past seven years, Sen. Kenneth Corn on Monday said the Legislature must make state employees a priority and provide them with a pay raise this year.
Corn is the author of SB 1379, which authorizes a $2,700 pay raise for Oklahoma state employees. Corn said state employees provide valuable and indispensible work, and should be at the top of the list when state funds are dispersed.
"From those who care for our elderly and children to those who ensure the safety of our highway and police our prisons, state employees provide essential services around the clock for Oklahomans,” said Corn, D-Poteau. "Every segment of our society is touched by these dedicated workers, and it’s time for us to take care of them."
Corn said the need for a state employee pay increase has been made even more essential as the legislature has been under-funding various state agencies in recent years.
“With agency budgets in such a crunch, many state employees have had to perform the work of two or three people when a vacancy is left unfilled,” he said.
Corn added the legislature should be especially appreciative of the many state employees who are currently working in hazardous situations.
“Our highway workers have some of the most dangerous jobs in the state,” he said. “Not to mention our correctional officers who stand between inmates and the public. These people deserve our support.”
Corn said he expects support for his legislation from both sides of the aisle.
"This is an issue which should not be politicized," he said. "Just as state employees work for all of us, we should now take this opportunity to do right by them."