JACKSON, Miss. — The Mississippi Department of Mental Health is recommending raises for some of its lowest-paid employees, but the proposal could face resistance as legislators try to cut spending.

Agency leaders told lawmakers Wednesday that direct care workers have high-stress jobs, and nearly half them left during the budget year that ended in June 2015.

Direct care workers are paid about $17,400 a year, and the agency proposes increasing that to just over $20,000. The workers help with day-to-day activities for people in mental hospitals and other facilities. Some of them work outside jobs because of the pay level, agency leaders told a panel of lawmakers studying the state budget.

Department of Mental Health spokeswoman Wendy Bailey said it’s common for the agency to lose direct care workers to fast-food restaurants and other jobs, the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal reported (http://bit.ly/2cFUTnE ).

“They can make pretty much the same amount of money or more with less stressful work,” Bailey said.

Training a new direct care worker costs the state between $2,300 and $2,600, agency leaders said.