TOPEKA, Kan. — Gov. Sam Brownback has authorized a 2.5 percent pay increase for some state employees who didn’t qualify for a pay raise approved by this year’s Kansas Legislature.

The decision made Thursday raises pay for unclassified state employees in the executive branch but not for classified workers who didn’t qualify for the raise. It wasn’t immediately clear how many people would be eligible for the raises, which take effect Sept. 24. The statement also didn’t indicate how much the order would cost the state, saying funding for it would come from “existing agency funds.”

Classified employees are paid using regulations authorized by state lawmakers and have the right to appeal personnel decisions such as firings, demotions or suspensions. Unclassified employees are considered “at will” workers whose wages are set by their bosses and who have no civil service protection from being fired.

The Department of Administration said in a news release that only the Legislature can approve pay raises for classified employees.

“The administration is currently looking at the agency budgets for fiscal year 2019 to determine how inequities and salary compression can be further addressed,” Sarah Shipman, secretary of the Kansas Department of Administration, said in the news release. “We look forward to working with the 2018 Legislature to further address this situation.”

At least one state agency, the Department of Health and Environment, said it would give the 2.5 percent raise to classified workers if they agree to become unclassified employees, The Lawrence Journal-World reported . The Department for Children and Families made a similar offer to its employees in late August.

At the Department of Corrections, Secretary Joe Norwood said his agency’s unclassified employees would be given a one-time, lump sum bonus payment.

“Unfortunately, KDOC was not able to identify funding for a 2.5 percent wage increase for these unclassified employees,” Norwood said in an email to his staff. “However, we have found funding for a ‘one-time’ 2.5 percent bonus.”

In a budget bill passed by lawmakers this year, employees who worked for the state less than five years were given a 2.5 percent raise. Employees with longer work time qualified for a 5 percent raise, but only if they had not had a pay raise during the five years. Few veteran employees qualified for the raise this year.

Robert Choromanski, head of the Kansas Organization of State Employees, said the Brownback administration is using the pay raises to divide classified and unclassified employees. He said he plans to seek legislation next year to restore civil service protection for all state employees.

“It’s practically creating a two-tiered state of employees. Basically the administration is labeling classified employees as losers and labeling unclassified employees as the winners,” Choromanski said.


Information from: Lawrence (Kan.) Journal-World, http://www.ljworld.com