Revenue employees to receive raise

About 600 state Revenue Department employees are getting a 4 percent pay raise retroactive to Oct. 1.

State Revenue Secretary Tim Barfield said the agency has identified dollars to provide for the across-the-board raise instead of the lump sum, one-time bonus originally contemplated.

The state Civil Service Commission on Wednesday approved rescinding the bonuses in favor of the general pay increase.

The commission had approved the one-time bonus in October when Barfield said the agency did not have the funds to provide the annual 4 percent pay increase that goes with attainment of exceptional and successful job evaluations.

Under the bonus plan, 141 employees rated exceptional would have received a one-time 4 percent pay bonus and another 488 rated successful a 2 percent of pay bonus. It marked the first time a state agency would have used job evaluation ratings to determine pay.

Now all will get the 4 percent raise on a recurring basis.

The pay raise will cost about $1 million annually. The one-time bonus would have run about $650,000.

“I just didn’t feel comfortable at the time that we could provide the raises out of our current budget without risking layoffs of some kind,” Barfield said Wednesday.

But agency cost-cutting and being more deliberate in filling job vacancies, Barfield said he feels comfortable granting the raises. “It’s something we wanted to do for the employees and something we can do this year and serve as a base for next year,” Barfield said.

The Jindal administration’s $25 billion-plus budget did not include extra funds to provide for state worker pay raises. Agencies had to come up with the dollars within the appropriation they received if they wanted to increase pay.

Nearly half of Louisiana’s some 41,800 classified state employees received a 4 percent increase in their paychecks Oct. 1, including those working in social service, public safety, transportation, environmental, and wildlife agencies, as well as the government’s management arm.

But the remaining thousands of other rank-and-file state government workers did not get pay raises, including those employed by state health agency and corrections, as their agencies lacked the funding. Many have not had a raised in four straight years because of on-going state fiscal problems.

Corrections spokeswoman Pam Laborde said Wednesday that the agency still plans to implement a 4 percent pay raise Feb. 1.

The state Department of Health and Hospitals has yet to identify funding.

“We will continue to work to find ways to provide merit raises in the future,” said DHH spokeswoman Olivia Watkins.