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In state government, managers get raises; rank and file don't

Nearly 1,700 state managers and legislative workers received $5.5-million in pay raises in the past 2{ years, while prison guards, child-abuse investigators and tens of thousands of other employees went without.

The raises average out to $3,174 a person and an average increase of 7.4 percent, for those that got them. The 1,700 includes nearly half of the state's agency managers.

Some managers got two or even three boosts to their paychecks, seeing their salaries rise by double-digit percentages, the Orlando Sentinel reported Sunday.

The last raise most workers got was 3 percent 30 months ago.

"Forget hypocrisy, this borders on criminal," said Mark Neimeiser, legislative director of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the union that represents 85,000 state employees.

"The robber barons are alive and well, and they work in state government," he said.

Although it's up to the Legislature to provide pay raises for most of Florida's 140,000 state employees, raises for several thousand managers, professionals and university administrators are left to the discretion of agency heads or university officials.

Legislative leaders set pay scales for legislative employees.

From early 1991, the last time there was an across-the-board raise, through last month, about 1,600 managers, professionals, legislative employees and university administrators got raises because they were promoted or switched jobs during that period.

But people who kept the same jobs saw their pay go up, too.

Some managers even got salary increases during a nine-month ban on raises for administrators ordered by Gov. Lawton Chiles and the Cabinet. Several Cabinet members who voted for the ban _ Comptroller Gerald Lewis, Education Commissioner Betty Castor and Attorney General Bob Butterworth _ gave raises during the blackout.

Legislators gave raises to more than 500 staff members who kept the same jobs, from secretaries to committee staff directors.

The pay freeze for most workers finally thawed this year when lawmakers, citing a rebounding economy, approved a 3 percent raise for all state employees effective in October.