The Austin Chronicle

Could State Employees Get First Cost-of-Living Raise in 21 years?

Austin’s own Rep. John Bucy has filed a bill to do just that

By Lina Fisher, January 27, 2023, News

Last Wednesday, state employees rallied at the Capitol for pay raises and pension increases, which they haven't seen since 2015. That last raise was designed to absorb the increase to their pension contribution; there has not been a true cost-of-living adjustment since 2002. "Over the last seven years, I've seen dozens of qualified, experienced workers leave the state because of low pay and unmanageable workloads," said San Antonio employee Sabrina Bedford in a Texas State Employees Union press release. "We're here to help our communities, but we have to be able to support our own families, as well."

TSEU has an ally in Rep. John Bucy III, D-Austin, who has filed House Bill 202 to raise the gross salary for state employees by $10,000, including a proportional raise for part-time employees. The hike would extend to those who work in higher education, who have been left out of state employee raises since 2003. The TSEU release noted that "spotty merit raises and 'pay for performance' schemes are no substitute for a real, across the board pay raise." According to a recent state auditor's report, last year state employees saw the highest turnover since 2008, with 22.7% leaving due to poor pay and benefits. "What we thought was bad, the recent report made clear is an unsustainable crisis," Bucy said. "As legislators we rely on state employees to provide critical services and support to our constituents," and understaffing those positions increases wait times for Medicaid and other services, and contributes to dangerous jail and foster care conditions.

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