State employees lose merit based raises

June 24, 2011

by Justin Fort, Staff Reporter

An executive order, which takes effect immediately, bans all state employees from getting merit-based salary increases until June 30, 2012. In other words, no employee may receive a pay raise based upon performance.

Less than a month ago, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal issued Executive Order BJ 11-09.

Tech President Dan Reneau said the bill will not have much of an effect on Tech and its employees.

“I think it’s probably a bit of overkill,” Reneau said. “We haven’t had money for raises for the last two years. I think it’s just showing the condition of the state.”

The difference between this pay freeze and the others is it also bans unclassified workers, such as teachers and department heads, from getting raises instead of classified workers like custodians or office assistants who have not been allowed raises in the last three years.

“There is an exception in there (the bill) for promotions,” he said. “I like that because we give a lot of promotions.”

The order was enacted to help save the state more money. The state constitution prohibits many areas from budget cuts, but the two it does not prohibit are health care and higher education.

“Pick your poison,” Reneau said.

The state constitution also states if a teacher meets certain criteria and performs at a high level, they will receive a raise based on merit.

Tech has laid off 150-200 people in the last three years and according to Reneau, the university will lay off more this year.

“We’re down to the bare minimum,” he said. “I think a lot of states are in the same condition right now.”

Reneau acknowledged the impact Jindal’s new order will have on the faculty.

“It eliminates any type of recognition for anybody at this time,” he said. “It has to affect morale.”

Gary Stokley, an associate professor of sociology agreed. He said it eliminates the incentive for hard work.

“It gets frustrating,” Stokley said. “You’re working, working, working and not getting a raise.”

In addition to Jindal’s newest executive order, Louisiana’s government is looking into repealing the state income tax and laying off 5,000 state employees every year for the next three years.

“There goes another billion dollars a year,” Stokley said. “That’d be ignorant.”

Stokley compared a teacher’s incentive to work to students in a classroom

“It’d be like you as a student working hard for an A, doing everything you can, but there aren’t any As to be given. In fact, there aren’t even any Bs.”

Stokley said government should start to show leadership if Louisiana is going to stabilize. He said right now the state’s future is looking bleak at best or nonexistent at worst. However, both Stokely and Reneau have expressed optimism Tech has managed to make minimal cuts that would negatively affect the classroom.

“Dr. Reneau has done a tremendous job in maintaining the staff and keeping up with day-to-day work,” Stokely said. “There have been darker times.”

Reneau said he thinks better times will be coming soon, but Tech faculty will have to continue working hard.

“There will be better times,” Reneau said. “There will be raises coming.”

Email comments to jwf014@latech.edu.