Our Opinion: Studying state pay is fine, but test is doing something

Studying state pay invites a dilemma.

Why study state pay if we’re not prepared to adjust it? But how can state pay be adjusted properly without being studied?

Before the legislative session ended Friday, lawmakers approved a resolution to create a 10-member joint House and Senate interim committee to examine the salaries of state employees.

The panel’s task will include comparing the wages of Missouri’s state workers to those in other states and recommending ways to provide raises.

The resolution to create the panel was sponsored by Jefferson City Rep. Mike Bernkoetter.

Among its supporters in the Senate was Jefferson City’s MIke Kehoe, who reminded his colleagues Missouri has slipped to last place among states in pay for public employees.

During remarks to fellow senators, Kehoe pointed out state government employs 57,000 workers at salaries that have not been reviewed officially in a number of years.

He also pointed out an estimated 5,000 job cuts implemented or planned have prompted government to “ask our folks to do more with less.”

Many employers — in both the private and public sectors — readily identify their work force as their greatest asset. That is particularly true when the employees are well-trained, experienced workers.

We believe that characterization accurately applies to Missouri’s state workers.

We see the study as the first half of a two-part initiative.

The panel is scheduled to finish its work before legislators convene for the 2012 session in January.

That will be when the second, and more vital, half begins.

To have real value, the panel’s research and recommendations must be coupled with a commitment to raise state pay in accordance with the study’s findings.

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