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Governor visits Cape for ceremonial bill signing

Missouri Governor Mike Parson, surrounded by state workers, signs copies of House Bill 14 on Feb. 28 at the Missouri Veterans Home in Cape Girardeau. The new law gives all state team members a 8.7 percent pay increase. Photo by Jay Forness

Gov. Mike Parson visited Cape Girardeau last week during a tour across the state after he signed an 8.7 percent cost-of-living pay increase into law for all state team members.

Parson visited the Missouri Veterans Home in Cape Girardeau on Tuesday, Feb. 28, where he signed replica copies of House Bill 14 (also referred to as the Fiscal Year 2023 Early Supplemental Bill) to present to state workers who attended the ceremonial signing.

“The pay raises that you are getting are nothing but well deserved,” Parson said to the state workers in attendance, adding that part of his job was to help retain and recruit state workers.

In addition to the cost-of-living raise, the bill also included a $2 per hour shift differential increase for state congregate care staff members, such as those working at the veterans home.

“Not everybody wants to work shift work, and when you start talking about swing shifts and midnight shifts – those are challenges no matter what division you are in,” Parson said. “So to be able to put an additional $2 an hour raise for shift workers on top of the 8.7 percent is going to be a great opportunity to retain people and make sure we keep people in our agencies, which is a problem.”

In January, Parson asked the Missouri General Assembly to pass HB 14 in part because of a nearly 30 percent turnover rate for state workers and more than 7,000 open positions across state government.

Parson officially signed the bill into law on Feb. 27 and the pay increase will be reflected in state worker’s March 31 paychecks.

This is not the first pay increase implemented under Parson, with state workers receiving a 7.5 percent pay increase last year. Since the start of Parson’s administration in 2018, state team workers pay has increase by more than 21 percent.

“I know when people say you get a one percent increase or something like that, what that really means is that you going in the hole because of how inflation grows,” Parson said.

Parson thanked the state workers for their work through various challenges, including natural disasters and COVID-19 – adding that it was state workers who found the solutions to these issues.

“At the end of the day, no matter what your titles are or what agency you work for, you are public servants,” Parson said. “Our job everyday is to go to work and help the people of this state.”

HB 14 included $151 million to cover the pay increases – as well as $20 million in school safety grants, $2.3 million in mental health facility improvements, $809,000 to support a 10.5 cent mileage reimbursement increase, $800,000 in Sexual Assault Forensic Exams (SAFE) funding, $630,000 in black vulture migration efforts concentrated in southwest Missouri and budget authority to ensure federal reimbursement of declared disasters.

Jay Forness covers education, county government and community events for The Cash-Book Journal. He graduated from Southeast Missouri State University with a degree in multimedia journalism and has lived in Jackson for the past five years. He can be reached at cbjedit@socket.net.

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