It was revealed this week that some Oklahoma state agency heads are receiving astronomical raises while regular state worker salaries continue to remain stagnant.
Here are some of the numbers: Oklahoma Tourism Executive Director Deby Snodgrass recently received a $40,000 pay increase; Oklahoma Bureau of Investigation Director Stan Florence recently received a $47,000 pay increase; Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Director Terri White recently received a $40,000 pay increase.
No matter how you qualify it, those are substantial raises, especially in a state like Oklahoma.
According to media reports, the raises were based on information presented to state leaders by a consulting firm, the Hay Group, which found the salaries for at least some top state positions to be low.
Regular state workers, whose salaries are also under review, haven’t received an across-the-board raise for several years. The raises for those at the top are a real slap in the face for them, and for other rank and file employees, such as teachers and state troopers.
It would be nice to get a $40,000 a year raise, wouldn’t it? Do you think that is going to happen for dedicated teachers, social workers and first responders?
It remains to be seen if leaders in the GOP-dominated state government will consider raises for all state workers once the salary issue has been studied, but if it doesn’t happen or if the raises are minimal, it should come as no surprise.
The Oklahoman editorial page, of course, supported the raises and argued the backlash was simply unavoidable, but the sheer size of the raises are a real issue in a state where education funding has been shrinking and state workers have gone without raises for years. It’s a matter of priorities, not perception. I’m sure the state could find someone to do Snodgrass’ job just as competently at her pre-raise salary of $86,000.
Better yet, here’s an idea: Why don’t we just make $86,000 the starting salary for new teachers and social workers?
I’m not begrudging anyone a raise, but the vast majority of state workers have a right to be terribly frustrated with this latest news.