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Parson’s plan to give state workers raises gets Missouri Senate leadership support

Senate President Pro Tem Caleb Rowden stands at the lectern of the Missouri Senate. He wearing a blue suit with a yellow tie and is speaking into a microphone.
Brian Munoz
St. Louis Public Radio
Senate President Pro Tem Caleb Rowden, R-Columbia, pictured on Jan. 4, agrees that Missouri's state workers need another pay raise.

Republican and Democratic Missouri Senate leadership agree with Gov. Mike Parson that state workers need another pay raise.

What those raises could look like is yet to be finalized, but Parson already has submitted his plan.

Under Parson’s proposal, which was announced Wednesday, state workers would see an 8.7% cost-of-living adjustment. Additionally, some employees in certain departments would see a $2-per-hour increase for working late or overnight shifts.

Those qualified for that additional raise include certain staff members in the departments of Social Services, Corrections and Mental Health and the Missouri Veterans Commission.

Parson said it’s an attempt by the state to remain competitive in the job market. The recommendations will be included in the proposed supplemental budget and must gain legislative approval to be enacted.

If the plan is approved, it would go into effect this fiscal year, which ends in June.

Senate President Pro Tem Caleb Rowden, R-Columbia, agreed there is a justification for raising state worker pay and doesn’t think Parson’s plan threatens the private sector.

“You got to do something. Clearly, we have a workforce at the state level that does a lot of important things for a lot of people. So we'll see how it goes. I don't know what the House's view of it, but certainly, I think we're headed in the right direction,” Rowden said Thursday.

Senate Minority Leader John Rizzo, D-Independence, said that he’s in support of any raise plan including Parson’s, but that most Republican plans are not going to go as far as Democrats would like.

“I think that we've got to get to that baseline before we can be competitive, and I don't know if they get us there or not, but some of the proposals I've seen for Republicans, it does not,” Rizzo said.

The announcement came a week before the governor’s State of the State address, in which he will further outline his budgetary priorities for the upcoming fiscal year.

As far as what else Parson will mention during his address, Rowden said he’s again expecting to hear the governor speak on workforce development and infrastructure

On infrastructure, Rowden said improving Interstate 70 is important to him and should matter to everybody because of the ongoing concerns with it.

With Missouri’s surplus and the recent congressional committee appointments of Missouri Reps. Jason Smith and Sam Graves as heads of the Ways and Means and Transportation and Infrastructure commities, respectively, now is a good time to look at Missouri’s infrastructure, he said.

“This is a moment that we're never gonna have, again, frankly, or at least not anytime soon,” Rowden said. “So whatever that thing ends up being, and certainly I think I-70 probably rises to the top of a lot of lists just because of its ongoing issues, now is the right time to strike.”

Another policy area Parson is expected to speak on is child care, which is likely to see bipartisan cooperation this year.

Rizzo said he’s glad to see Republicans are coming to Democrats' side of the table on the importance of child care.

“Everybody wants to talk about jobs and workforce and everything else. Well, you have to be able to have a place for your children, if you want to go work,” Rizzo said.

Parson’s State of the State address is scheduled for 3 p.m. Wednesday.

St. Louis Public Radio will broadcast the State of the State address live.

Sarah Kellogg is a Missouri Statehouse and Politics Reporter for St. Louis Public Radio and other public radio stations across the state.