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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Scott's budget will include pay raise package for FDLE analysts



Gov. Rick Scott's upcoming budget recommendations will include generous pay raises for a select group of analysts and supervisors at the Florida Department of Law Enforcement in an effort to reduce the high rate of turnover at FDLE's crime labs. The proposal will require legislative approval in the 2016 session.

The No. 1 priority on FDLE's budget wish list is to give $10,000 raises to 261 analysts, $12,000 raises to 80 senior crime lab analysts and a base-pay increase to supervisors of $60,000 to $72,000 or a minimum 10 percent raise. For years, the agency has been losing experienced analysts to local law enforcement agencies that pay more. In the past five years, 107 analysts and supervisors have left FDLE, a turnover rate of 37 percent.

FDLE pays lab analysts a starting salary of $41,000 a year. The Pinellas sheriff's office pays $55,000 for the same work, Miami-Dade pays $50,000 and Broward pays $48,000 a year.

"This is great news for our FDLE labs," FDLE spokeswoman Gretl Plessinger said. "We appreciate the governor's support and will continue working with the Legislature to ensure they understand our needs."

Scott's office issued a news release Wednesday that said he supports giving FDLE $8.5 million more next year to enhance the crime labs, including new lab equipment and software to reduce processing time for rape kits -- but he made no mention of the pay raise, which could prompt other state employee groups to ask, "What about us?"

Scott has never supported an across-the-board pay raise for rank-and-file state employees, and earlier this year he vetoed a $2,000 pay raise for state forestry firefighters. FDLE also got word that Scott's proposed budget will include $1.3 million to replace 20 aging FDLE vehicles and buy five new vehicles for its crime scene and hazardous device units.

The other big-ticket item on FDLE's wish list is an additional $3.4 million to hire 26 employees to investigate officer-involved shootings in Florida.

[Last modified: Thursday, November 19, 2015 1:25pm]


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