What we know.
Last night, Governor Haslam gave his State of the State address, outlining his FY2015-2016 proposed budget.
Here is what we know about the Governor’s proposed budget as it impacts state employees based on the Governor’s speech, the F&A Commissioner’s budget presentation, a meeting this morning with DOHR, several phone calls and emails, and the budget proposal documents:
Governor Haslam’s proposed budget eliminates 559 total positions, 501 of which are currently filled.
The Governor also proposes the elimination of Longevity Pay for executive branch employees, but not for judiciary and legislative branches.
The funds currently given to state employees for funding their Longevity Pay would now be used as follows.
- Effective July 1, 2015, executive branch employees (preferred and executive service employees) would receive a permanent base salary increase equal to half of their current longevity pay.
- The other half of the longevity funds would be reallocated to the state’s General fund and then used for market-based and performance-based salary increases.
The budget proposal allocates $47.7 million for salary increases, which includes one-half of the longevity funds ($15.4 million). These salary increases could be tied to individual performance evaluations or could be used as a market adjustment for identified positions.
Proposed salary increases:
- Valued Performance Employees (3 rating) would receive a 2% pay increase
- Advanced Performance Employees (4 rating) would receive a 3% pay increase
- Outstanding Performance Employees (5 rating) would receive a 4% pay increase
The current base pay for each salary range will be increased by 1%. Those employees now receiving the base salary will receive a 1% increase in pay.
Other items of concern in the budget:
- Woodland Hills Youth Development Center – 131 filled positions will be abolished. Commissioner Henry stated this morning that Woodland Hills will not be privatized; only the services it provides. There is a goal to move as many detainees as possible to community settings. Woodland Hills will be down-sized to only house the most troubled youths.
- Charles Bass prison – To be closed, abolishing 305 filled positions.
- Greene Valley Developmental Center – 47 filled positions would be abolished as part of the administration’s ultimate plan to shutter the facility in 2016.
What we can do.
Every budget proposal is just that, only a proposal. It still must travel through the entire legislative process.
That is where you come in.
You need to call your legislators and tell them how this plan affects you.
Explain to them how THIS IS NOT A PAY RAISE. Tell them how much you depend on your longevity pay, especially considering state employees do not receive cost of living adjustments to off-set inflation.
Explain to them how longevity pay is based on an objective system that rewards years of service and values loyalty and dedication to state service, and how this shift is to a subjective system based on a supervisor’s judgment and a subjective performance rating system.
Explain to them how over the last several years, state employees have been continually asked to do more with less, have lost most of their civil service rights and protections, have had their pension plan restructured, struggled while their salaries are continually outpaced by the cost of living, and now face losing their longevity. Ask them when enough is enough?
TSEA will send out additional information in the coming days and will keep you up-to-date with the budget process.
Longevity Pay was initiated by TSEA and enacted by the Tennessee General Assembly in 1979.
Tenn. Code Ann. § 8-23-206 (c)
The longevity pay provided by this section shall not be in place of any merit raise, step increase, incentive pay or cost-of-living raise, but shall be in addition to all such increases. Longevity pay provided in this section shall be issued by separate check or by automated clearing house (ACH) transaction to the qualified employee, unless the employee elects not to receive a separate longevity check or separate payment by ACH transaction; provided, however, that employees of the board of regents shall not be issued separate checks for longevity pay. It is declared to be the intent of the general assembly to reward those not otherwise rewarded for experience and faithful service to the state and to encourage career employees to remain in service to the state.