Contract with State Employees

May 10, 2010

As a former state employee and current small business owner in Cole County, I understand how important state employees are to our local economy. Nearly every small business owner in our community relies upon state employees for their customers. And, of course, state employees rely on state employment to provide for their families.

When state employees suffer, our community suffers. 

As your representative, I will stand up for state employees in the state capitol. But rather than just making that blanket statement, I want to make five precise promises on what I will do for state employees.

The following is my Contract with State Employees. If I have the privilege of serving western Cole County in the Missouri House of Representatives, I will take the following actions:

1. I Will Fight for Pay Raises Every Year – Missouri state employees are currently the second-lowest paid state employees in the entire country. That’s an embarrassment to our state and a detriment to our local economy. Though state government is in the midst of a budget crisis, that crisis was not caused by state employees – and state employees should not be forced to suffer for problems they didn’t cause. As your state representative, I will fight for pay raises every single year. We have to move out of the national cellar in state employee pay.

2.  I Will Defend State Pensions – Though state employees are not, on average, highly compensated, they do enjoy generous benefits. Those benefits, and most especially the state pension system, allow the state to attract higher quality employees at lower salaries than they would otherwise demand. If you work for the state for 20 or 30 years, you know you will have a solid retirement. Unfortunately, both Republicans and Democrats in our state capitol and the Governor’s Mansion are putting that security in jeopardy. I believe moves to cut state pensions are short-sighted, and will fight against any and all efforts to cut benefits.

3. I Will Protect Jobs in Cole County –  Ours is the only community in the state whose economy is heavily reliant on state employees. Though there are 15,000 state employees in Cole County, there are 45,000 more who work throughout the state. Yet, despite the fact that we’re the only economy substantially affected by state employees and comprise just 25 percent of the state workforce, our community is forced to bear more than our share of state job cuts. As your state representative, I will fight for a state policy requiring job cuts to first be considered in St. Louis, Kansas City, and Springfield – places where state employee job cuts will not devastate their local economies. I will fight to protect jobs here in Cole County.

4. Practice What You Preach Legislation – I believe elected officials should live by the same rules they impose on others. That includes compensation. As your state representative, I will propose legislation forbidding legislators from getting increased pay or per diem in any year in which either (1) state employees do not receive a raise above the rate of inflation or (2) a substantial number of state jobs are cut. But, I must point out, this would be a one-way relationship. The salaries of elected officials would not automatically be increased if state employee salaries are increased.

5. I Will NEVER Vote to Increase My Own Salary – I’m running for this office to help improve our community, not to find ways to pad my wallet. As your state representative, I promise that I will NEVER vote to increase my own salary. This seems simple. And it is. But at least one other candidate in this race has failed to live by this simple rule. In 2004, Chris Wrigley voted to nearly double his salary as a Cole County Commissioner just over a year into the job. In the same budget year, Wrigley voted for a county budget that failed to raise county employee salaries above the rate of inflation. I will never do anything like that.

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