Governor Scott Walker’s proposal to give state and University of Wisconsin system employees a 1 percent pay raise was approved by a legislative committee yesterday. This will be the state’s first increase since before Walker took office; Republicans say that the measure is representative of Wisconsin’s improving public finances.
The pay increase is not being warmly received by state workers’ unions and Democrats. Critics say it still equates to a cut compared to their total take-home compensation before Walker’s 2011 collective-bargaining reforms, which increased most state employees’ contributions to their pension and health plans.
“One percent doesn’t even hold the workers even,” Marty Beil, executive director of the state employees’ union, told the Wisconsin State Journal. “I think they made it one percent by throwing a dart at a dart board.” One of the Democrats on the commmittee that approved Walker’s proposal said the increase was “about as modest as you could possibly make it.”
Republicans, on the other hand, pointed to the increase as a sign of the state’s recovering economy and public finances.
Under the 2011 union reforms, the administration was given the authority to set pay increases for public workers. This will be the first increase since 2009, two years before Walker took office.
The pay increase will go into effect next week. Elected officials will also received a 1 percent pay raise, but it will not going into effect until after the 2014 elections.