Gov. Rick Scott approves state worker pay raise, benefit changes
Gov. Rick Scott signed a state worker pay raise into law Wednesday, marking the first time in over a decade that employees are getting an across-the-board raise. All employees who earn $40,000 a year or less will get a $1,400 raise, and employees who earn more than $40,000 a year will get a $1,000 raise.
Most state law enforcement officers will get a 5 percent raise and most correctional officers will get a $2,500 raise, and judges, elected state attorneys and public defenders will get 10 percent pay hikes. The pay raise bill makes mandatory changes to state workers' benefits that prompted some Democratic legislators to vote against the measure (SB 7022).
Scott signed the bill at the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles in Tallahassee, and about 200 employees and visitors attended, many of whom were also honored as part of the agency's Veterans Recognition Day.
"As you all know, I came into this job having no experience in state government," Scott told the group, "and one of the nicest things about our state is the people who work in state government are wonderful people. They're working hard every day."
In past years as governor, Scott has generally been a proponent of performance-based bonuses for state workers.
As part of the law Scott signed Wednesday, new state employees hired after Jan. 1, 2018, will default from the state pension plan to an investment plan, and employees will have nine months after being hired to elect a pension or investment plan.
State agencies have been hobbled by high employee turnover for many years, and a big reason is low pay compared to similar jobs in county government or in other states. The Times/Herald has reported that over the past seven years, nearly half of the work force of the Florida Highway Patrol has left. The starting pay for a rookie trooper has not increased since 2005.