Nichols: Some state workers to get pay raises

After years of government budget problems 1,400 state employees will be getting pay raises, officials said Thursday.

About 1,100 employees of the Division of Administration and 331 at the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness are in line for increases.

Whether and when the rest of the state workforce gets any pay adjustments is unclear.

The state has about 72,000 classified and unclassified workers.

The hikes are linked to job performance.

“Because of smart planning and aggressive implementation, targeted reforms throughout the agency have produced financial savings that will be passed on to our employees,” Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols said in a prepared statement.

“We have always worked to make government in Louisiana smaller and more efficient for the people of this state and we are seeing those efforts pay off,” she said.

Nichols said money has been saved by improving the agency’s procurement process, consolidating its information technology department and the combining of several offices under DOA.

“This plan streamlines the governance of state properties and allowed for new opportunities to realize direct savings for Louisiana,” she said.

The increases will apply to both classified and unclassified employees of the division.

However, its executive staff will not be eligible for the pay adjustments.

The DOA is the management arm of state government including the governor’s budget advisers, construction management officials and state purchasing.

The cost of the increases for division employees is $2.4 million, according to Douglas Baker, director of communications for the Division of Administration.

The agency has 1,179 employees.

Meanwhile, 331 employees at GOHSEP will be getting 4 percent pay increases effective Oct. 1, Executive Director Kevin Davis said.

“We have streamlined our operations to cut costs in recent years,” Davis said in a separate prepared statement.

“That means many of our employees have taken on additional responsibilities and training,” he said. “This performance pay adjustment is recognition for that work.”

The price tag is about $750,000.

Pay raises have largely been lacking in state government agencies since financial woes hit several years ago in Louisiana and elsewhere.

No money was provided for increases in Jindal administration budgets, and there was a ban on awarding the raises even in agencies that had the dollars available in some years.

Some state lawmakers have noted that, amid nationwide economic problems, many rank-and-file workers in private industry have gone without raises for years too and that state worker raises have to be balanced against the needs of key services.

The raises are being granted under a new performance evaluation rating system adopted by the state Civil Service Commission and signed off on by Jindal.

Employees are rated as either “exceptional,” “successful” or “needs improvement-unsuccessful.”

Anyone rating successful or above would be eligible for a 4 percent pay increase.

The employee job performance ratings are done between July 1 and Aug. 31. The raises are granted effective Oct. 1 under the new system.

No money was specifically appropriated in the state budget for pay raises in the fiscal year that began July 1.

However, agencies can grant them if they can identify the funds to pay for them.

Kyle Plotkin, a spokesman for Jindal, said employees of the governor’s office will not be getting pay raises.

The division pay hikes come on the heels of pay increases at several Louisiana colleges and universities. LSU President and Baton Rouge Chancellor F. King Alexander, in July, announced system wide salary adjustments for faculty and staff of up to 4 percent. They were the first increases for LSU employees in four years.

Earlier this month, the Southern University Board of Supervisors approved a wide range of pay raises for employees at four of the system’s five campuses, with only Baton Rouge employees left out. Administrators, however, have said they anticipate giving Southern’s Baton Rouge employees a one-time $1,000 pay bump sometime this year.

Information for this story was provided by Michelle Millhollon, Marsha Shuler, Will Sentell and Koran Addo of the Capitol News Bureau.