State Pay Raise Approved

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The Mississippi Senate Friday unanimously approved a plan to give state employees a pay raise, setting the stage for lawmakers to finish budget work this weekend. The proposal has already passed the House.

It would give each state employee at least $1,500 more. They would receive half of the raise starting July 1, the beginning of the new fiscal year, and the other half starting Jan. 1, 2007.

Some employees' raises will change based on realignment, which is the process used by state officials to keep Mississippi salaries competitive with what is paid in the private sector and surrounding states for similar jobs.

But lawmakers say the $1,500 minimum increase would guarantee all employees would get a raise.

Brenda Scott, president of the Mississippi Alliance of State Employees, applauded the move to give raises to those who are not entitled to realignment.

This will be the first significant pay raise for most state employees in six years. The money will be spread out over employees' checks for each pay period.

Gov. Haley Barbour released a statement following the Senate vote.

"With the Senate action today, the Legislature has overwhelmingly passed a pay raise and realignment plan for state employees that is reasonable and affordable," said Barbour. "The plan is similar to one I outlined in my State of the State Address and my budget recommendation, and I congratulate members of the Legislature on reaching consensus on this important issue. I hope we can continue to work together on a responsible budget that will allow for an additional pay raise for state employees next year."