OKLAHOMA CITY – Some lawmakers say it has been too long since state employees have had a pay raise, but a bill that would have given some state employees more support was recently vetoed by the governor.
“We know that state employees are often left behind. We have done a lot for teachers in the last couple of years, but state employees have not got the same attention and they need it desperately,” said Rep. Jason Dunnington of Oklahoma City.
Dunnington, the co-author, claims HB 2465 would have helped. The bill which passed easily in both the house and senate would have paid state employees that made below 31k a year for comp time instead of losing it when it expired.
On Tuesday, the bill was vetoed by Governor Kevin Stitt. The chief executive claim it was not inclusive enough.
“That bill segregates a certain class of people under a certain amount of money and I just don’t think it’s right to segregate classes of employees. It was a change and I just don’t think it was the right change,” said Stitt.
The governor also saying it doesn’t give a state agency head the ability to make decisions that are best for their agency.
“Hopefully what he said in the veto message about how important state employees are to the state of Oklahoma then he will step up and get the $2500 in the budget,” said Sterling Zearly, Executive Director of the Oklahoma Public Employees Association(OPEA).
The OPEA talking about a push to get a $2500 raise for all state employees now being debated as part of this year’s budget.
“We are in the middle of budget negotiations and that’s something that’s certainly on the table, that is trying to figure out giving state employees a pay raise,” said Stitt.
“We need to prioritize state employees and we need to prioritize the hard work they put in for this state and show that we care about that by giving them the raise they need,” said Dunnington.
The governor says even though they will have budget surplus this year, it’s important to be prudent and not spend it all on one thing.
“I’m definitely representing the tax payers and making sure we are fiscally responsible with our dollars,” said Stitt.
Dunnington says the house probably won’t try to override the veto on 2465 but he will push hard for that pay raise.
The governor, staying true to his promise in the state of the state, says he wants to put back $200 million this year in a Rainy Day Fund.