Impact of pay raise cut varied

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 12, 2003

State employees in Pike County may not be affected much by Gov. Bob Riley's plan to freeze annual merit raises.

That depends on which bracket they are in within their job classification, according one retired state employee.

&uot;I'm sure it would affect (all state workers)

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to some degree, especially with the cost of living going up,&uot; said Keith Snyder, who retired from the Alabama Dept. of Transportation in 1998.

Riley announced Monday that effective April 1, the annual merit pay raises would be halted in an attempt help avoid

Alabama's looming financial crisis.

The state faces a $500 million deficit this year.

&uot;If the CEO of a company is expecting a $500 million drop in revenues, it doesn’t make good sense to give thousands of employees an 8 percent pay raise, and that is exactly what’s happening in state government&uot; Riley said in a press release Monday. &uot;We appreciate and care about our state employees, and this move is not intended to be punitive.

It is simply a necessary step in solving the largest fiscal crisis our state has ever faced.&uot;

Last October, all state employees received an automatic 3 percent pay raise that was passed by the Legislature last year.

Those pay raises will not be affected by the moratorium.

Raises resulting from promotions to higher job classifications or successful completion of probationary periods will also remain unaffected.

However, annual merit raises of either 2.5 or 5 percent that the majority of state employees receive will be halted.

Last year, more than 15,000 state employees received the 5 percent merit raise while only about 1,300 received the 2.5 percent increase. More than 10,000 employees did not receive a merit raise because they were already at the top of the pay scale for their classification and another 3,200 were in their probationary period, Riley said in a prepared statement.

Without the moratorium being put into effect, the majority of state employees would receive pay increases of 8 percent this fiscal year after the 3 percent automatic pay raise and the 5 percent merit raise are added together.

This is despite a $500 million shortfall in the General Fund and Education Trust Fund budgets.

&uot;The governor can't suspend a cost-of-living raise,&uot; state senator Wendell Mitchell said. &uot;That's a legislative item.&uot;

But Mitchell adds that, theoretically, a lot of state employees in Pike county could not be affected by the freezes.

&uot;I don't know how many state employees in Pike county are in the top of their bracket.

&uot;The ones that are affected by (the moratorium) will take exception it I'm sure,&uot; he said.

&uot;We have to balance that with the difficult times we're in,&uot; he said, noting that Alabama is in the &uot;worst financial shape&uot; he's seen in his six terms in the Legislature.

Mitchell said that to balance budget - a move required by the state constitution - would require

&uot;sacrifice on everybody's part.&uot;

&uot;There's a point in time that if the money is not available, employees will be laid off.

&uot;What the Legislature has to do is work for some revenue sources that will fund these deserved raises and I hope we can solve it soon,&uot; he said. &uot;Until then, we all have to tighten our belts.&uot;

Snyder echoes those sentiments from his vantage point of having been in the state's employ.

&uot;From the employees' standpoint,

they work for their raises and plan on their raises,&uot; he said &uot;but if the money's not there, there's nothing they can do about


&uot;If they get a cost-of-living raise,

that's a raise, too.&uot;