Some of the more than 100,000 faceless state workers that Florida Gov. Rick Scott has targeted as ways to slash government spending are standing up and pushing back.
Scott has proposed cutting the state government payroll by roughly 10 percent over two years, wants employees to redirect 5 percent of their salary to retirement benefits, and is asking employees to accept cuts to their health care benefits.
"If you work in the private sector, here's the things you have to do: Your overhead has to come down each and every year as a percentage of revenues. Every year," Scott said in defense of his budget proposal for 2011-13. "That has not happened in state government."
But state government workers already have been asked to sacrifice plenty, some say.
On Feb. 21, 2011, during a meet-and-greet with Department of Corrections workers in Tallahassee, Scott faced a pointed question from a corrections department employee about the proposed cuts.
"You said to hold you accountable," the employee, speaking from the audience, said to Scott. "State employees have seen, since the Bush administration, a reduction in state employees. I have been with this agency for many years. And I've seen where our staff has been significantly cut. We are required to do more with less. State employees haven't received a raise in five or six years. You're asking us to contribute to our pension plan and contribute more to our insurance. My question is simple: What have you required for the wealthiest Floridians to contribute to the state revenues?"
Scott didn't directly answer the question in his response, according to the St. Petersburg Times, and instead offered a quick lesson in capitalism. You can listen to the exchange here.
The plight of state employees certainly has been an issue in Wisconsin, where Republican Gov. Scott Walker is trying to remove collective bargaining rights for many state workers, resulting in massive protests and counter-protests. The issue hasn't reached such a fever pitch in Florida, but Scott's proposals are being met with resistance from union groups and many legislators.
Here at PolitiFact Florida, we plan to spend significant time checking claims about state workers, their benefits, and Scott's and the Legislature's plans. In this case, we wanted to check the claim by the state worker -- who was not identified in news stories -- that "state employees haven't received a raise in five or six years."
The answer comes from the Florida Department of Management Services, which in effect serves as the state human resources agency. The department tracks general pay raises for state employees as part of its annual workforce report.
State workers received a 3 percent general pay adjustment on Oct. 1, 2006, their last general wage increase.
State workers did receive a $1,000 lump-sum bonus on Nov. 1, 2007, and eligible Florida Highway Patrol law enforcement employees received a 5 percent raise effective Oct. 1, 2008. There were no pay adjustments included in the 2009-10 or 2010-11 budget.
Employees remain eligible for possible merit pay increases.
As of June 30, 2010, the Department of Management Services reported that of the 105,031 people working in the state personnel system, more than 74,000 -- about 70 percent of them -- worked at a yearly salary of less than $40,000.
A state employee asking a pointed question about Scott's proposal to cut benefits for state workers noted that state workers haven't received a raise in "five or six years." The last general pay adjustment for state employees occurred on Oct. 1, 2006, almost four years and five months ago. And state employees did receive a lump-sum $1,000 bonus in 2007, though that did not affect their salary rate. Those two details add more context to the worker's claim. We find this statement Mostly True.
St. Petersburg Times, "Corrections workers applaud question to Scott about pay cuts," Feb. 21, 2011
Interview with Department of Management Services spokeswoman Lauren Engel, Feb. 22, 2011
Department of Management Services, annual workforce report, accessed Feb. 22, 2011
Florida 2010-11 state budget
Gov. Rick Scott proposed 2011-13 budgets
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