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COMMENTARY
Oklahoma state employees
(Morguefile.com)

To the editors:

I support salary increases for teachers, however, I am equally concerned that state employees’ last cost-of-living salary increase was in 2007 — 11 years ago.

According to the state’s Office of Management and Enterprise Services 2016 Annual Compensation Report (embedded below), these public servants’ average salary was 24.13 percent below what employees are paid in the private sector for similar work.

We’ve heard how great state benefits are, but the fact is that the average benefit cost for state employees was 15.57 percent lower than the market’s average. That makes total compensation 21.12 percent lower than what other workers were paid in the state during the fiscal year ending June 30, 2016.

Many people are struggling in Oklahoma’s current economy, but state employees deliver critical services to our most vulnerable citizens (children, seniors, people with disabilities) and citizens who have business with state government. State employees are forced to accept new responsibilities when co-workers seek better employment opportunities and vacant positions remain unfilled. The fact is that many Oklahoma state employees are eligible for the services they provide the public, such as food stamps.

This is a crying shame in a state that should make special interests pay their fair share of taxes, which they now avoid through tax incentives that nobody is tracking. The state Legislature can’t even tell us how much these give-aways cost taxpayers, but many are quick to let partisan politics stand in the way of paying reasonable wages to struggling state employees.

Phyllis Bryant
Bethany, Okla.

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