Louisiana state employees likely forgoing pay raises
In Louisiana, state employees may be facing a limit on annual pay raises. This would be the second year of pay freezes in the state. Employee advocates, however, are calling this move the equivalent of a payday loan for the state.
Louisiana state pay raises
The state of Louisiana is facing a $1.6 billion budget shortfall. Each year, along with annual reviews, employees generally qualify for pay raises up to 4 percent. Last year, the state froze Louisiana state employee pay raises and saved about $55 million. Gov. Bobby Jindal has suggested extending these pay raise freezes for the 2011-2012 budget year to continue the savings. This would freeze only annual pay raises, not raises associated with promotions.
Louisiana budgetary woes
By trying to fix the Louisiana budgetary problems with pay freezes, the state legislature is not making friends. State commission members who represent employees have expressed concern that the state is “attempting to balance the budget on the back of workers.” Calling the pay freeze an emergency loan that will end up costing the state more money, employee advocates are attempting to push through at least a cost-of-living adjustment for employees. Many states are using pay freezes, furlough days, and even layoffs as a way to balance budgets. In Louisiana, cutting out pay raises is a relatively low-impact measure to balance the budget.
Where Louisiana stands
Though the state is trying to cut almost $2 billion out of the budget, Louisiana is in a better position than most states, economically. The average unemployment rate in Louisiana is 7.7 percent, while the average national rate is about 9 percent. Louisiana state colleges also have one of the lowest in-state tuition rates in the nation. The state commission is currently drawing up proposals, and the final budgetary decisions will be made by March 11.