State agencies considering raises

Pay raises are on the way for state employees at LSU’s Baton Rouge campus, but thousands of others who work for major state agencies won’t get them.

Some 1,200 LSU non-academic classified employees will get 4 percent pay raises beginning Tuesday with the exception of those employees whose job performance was rated “needs improvement-unsuccessful” in the state’s new evaluation system, campus officials announced Friday. The price tag will be $1.2 million to increase maintenance workers, clerical employees and others pay.

LSU’s unclassified employees faculty and staff got pay adjustments in July.

The state Department of Transportation and Development, the Department of Children and Family Services, the state Department of Environmental Quality and the Louisiana Workforce Commission announced pay raises beginning Tuesday.

But Louisiana’s health and corrections agencies are among those departments saying they don’t have enough to start paying the 4 percent increase on Tuesday.

But Corrections Secretary Jimmy LeBlanc said late Friday that his agency hoped to give raises beginning Feb. 1.

State Department of Health and Hospitals Secretary Kathy Kliebert said the agency would continue to look at its financial situation to see where it can find the $12 million the raises would require.

“If there’s any possible way we definitely want to give some sort of performance adjustment. We have some of those hard-working employees,” Kliebert said. “We want to be able to reward them.”

Other higher education institutions aren’t implementing the 4 percent raises for non-academic employees citing the same budget woes. Employees at Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond, the University of New Orleans and Southern University at New Orleans, won’t receive raises.

Civil Service the state’s personnel agency has been getting letters from state agency executives notifying them of financial problems that stand in the way of what it calls “performance adjustments,” Civil Service director Shannon Templet said Friday.

To grant the pay raises would prompt state employee layoffs so the pay hikes are being withheld as a “layoff avoidance” measure, the executives attest in letters to Civil Service.

There are about 72,000 classified and unclassified state employees, many of whom have not had raises in four years. How many of those will ultimately get any raises is unclear.

Thirty-seven entities have filed notice that they are withholding the 4 percent in pay raises.

Among them are the state Department of Health and Hospitals, the state Department of Corrections, the Department of Revenue, the Office of Juvenile Justice, the Office of Elderly Affairs, the office of lieutenant governor and Office of Culture, Recreation and Tourism and the state treasurer’s office, according to Civil Service.

Civil Service did not have information on how many employees are affected in each agency.

Templet said she expects more requests as Tuesday’s date to begin implementing the raises looms. After Tuesday, agencies will have to go before the state Civil Service Commission, if they do not intend to provide the 4 percent pay hike, she said.

Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols, the governor’s chief budget official, said each agency has the discretion to make pay raise decisions. “We certainly support them to the extent they can find efficiencies to allow for that,” Nichols said. Nichols said she anticipates that some of those agencies notifying Civil Service that they didn’t have the funds will identify them and later provide some pay adjustments.

On Thursday, administration officials authorized pay raises for some 1,400 employees in Nichols’ Division of Administration and the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness. Then, the Louisiana Work Force Commission joined in. About 1,030 Commission employees are eligible to receive the pay raises at a cost of about $2.5 million, Commission spokesman Tom Guarisco said. Unclassified employees who make more than $100,000 annually don’t qualify.

It was the first break in a drought of employee pay hikes as Louisiana government struggled with financial woes.

On Friday, the state Department of Environmental Quality also said its employees would benefit.

With the exception of LSU, mostly smaller state government agencies or those that largely operate on federal or self-generated funds have announced employees will get the raises.

The 4 percent pay increases are associated with state employees attainment of ratings of “exceptional” or “successful” in recently completed job evaluations. But those getting rating of “needs improvement-unsuccessful” are being left out.

“The Performance Evaluation System still remains in place and all classified employees must receive a performance evaluation regardless of whether an agency is granting the performance increase or not,” Templet said.

The state Department of Veterans Affairs and the Louisiana Public Broadcasting-Louisiana Educational Television Authority have served notice they want to grant less than a 4 percent increase — Veterans Affairs, 3 percent, and LPB, 2 percent.

LSU Shreveport, Alexandria and Eunice campuses are asking to grant a lump sum instead of a base pay performance adjustment for non-academic employees. Those requests go before the Civil Service Commission for approval on Wednesday.

Koran Addo of the Capitol news bureau contributed to this report.