State employees get pay hike in Senate budget plan

Published 1:00 am Wednesday, March 9, 2022

The General Assembly has taken another step forward in enacting a two-year spending plan for the Executive Branch, as the Senate Appropriations Committee gave their approval to a budget for the next two fiscal years that begin July 1.

Sen. Christian McDaniel, R-Ryland Heights, the committee chair who has been involved in several budgets during his time in office, opened the meeting by saying, “This is the first time in those budgets that the entirety of growth revenue was not consumed by pensions and Medicaid. We had the ability this year to fund additional priorities in the commonwealth, and we took a very conservative yet measured approach to those priorities.”

He said the top priority was a pay hike for state employees. “The state’s workforce, for the last 15 years, has been largely without any kind of a raise. There have been targeted raises throughout that time but, by and large, there have been no across-the-board increases.”

McDaniel says there will be an average 10% pay raise each year. The first year it will be $4,500 for each employee, so those making less than $45,000 will see slightly more than 10%, those earning more will have slightly less. The second year, the Personnel Cabinet will be required to perform a locality and positional study, to ensure the money is appropriately allocated across the workforce.

Other provisions include a $15,000 raise for State Police troopers, while social workers would receive a $4,800 increase each year, plus a 10% raise in the second year. It would also direct the Cabinet to develop a program to rotate social workers to a one-year inside position after four years on the front lines, to give them a mental break, according to McDaniel.

Additional staffing would be provided to the State Medical Examiner’s office, including technicians.

For the schools, SEEK funding per student would be $4,100 the first year and $4,200 the second, while institutions under the Council on Postsecondary Education will receive the same base funding, but $87 million has been added to the performance-based funding formula.

The public employee pension systems will receive the actuarially required full funding, while adding an additional $250 million to the State Police Retirement system.

An additional $4 per day per person increase would go to county jails that are housing state prisoners.

A non-profit grant pool of $75 million would be established, with each grantee receiving up to $75,000 to make up for losses incurred during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A total of $250 million is earmarked for repairs to the Capitol, over a six-year period, including the replacement of the HVAC system.

The Road Fund receives $200 million to provide state matching fund for megaprojects, such as the proposed companion to the Brent Spence Bridge, between Covington and Cincinnati.

A total of $250 million is earmarked for a complete overhaul of the Kentucky State Park System.

The measure allocates funding to the Budget Reserve Trust Fund, otherwise known as the Rainy-Day Fund, so at the end of the two years it would stand at $1.75 billion.  Unappropriated money is $1.278 billion.

The measure now heads to the Senate floor.