Moratorium on state pay raises wise, but difficult

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 13, 2003

Gov. Bob Riley's moratorium on annual merit pay raises for state employees is a hard decision for any executive, and its impact will be felt here.

Pike County probably ranks in the top ten counties in terms of its pro-rata share of state employees. We have state employees that work here, commute from here to other cities and those from other cities who commute to Troy in the state's employ.

It's sufficient to say that the state is a major employer in our county.

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When pay raises do not come along, Pike County's economy suffers.

Most state employees are honest, hard-working people who deserve merit pay, and Alabama's annual merit pay system is itself top notch.

The system simply rewards state workers who do their best, and among that vast number, most count on receiving a fair pay raise each year.

When those raises don't come, employees know they'll be putting their dreams on hold for a little while.

That's a hard thing to do but with Alabama's budget $500 million in the red, the governor must make sound fiscal decisions. Holding off on the merit pay raises this year is certainly a sound decision, and will save the state nearly $26 million.

We agree with Sen. Wendell Mitchell when he said it would be better to freeze the merit pay raises than it would be to furlough employees.

Laying off state employees would dramatically stifle Alabama's already sluggish economy. More importantly, it would devastate many families.

The governor is making the hard decisions wisely in regard to the budget crisis.

It's up to rest of us to tighten our belts and support him in this cause.