July 31, 2014

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Gov. Strickland halts workers’ pay increases

COLUMBUS — Gov. Ted Strickland said he will deny pay raises for about 3,400 state workers because of declining budget revenue.
The move puts a freeze on the salaries of nonunion state employees in cabinet agencies and other departments under the governor’s control — mostly political appointees hired since Strickland took office in January.
“I greatly value the work of Ohio’s public servants, but we are facing tough financial times,” Strickland said Friday. “This is another step toward finding ways to become more efficient while still providing top-quality services to the people of Ohio.”
About 35,000 state workers represented by the Ohio Civil Service Employees Association will continue to receive raises of 3.5 percent starting July 1 based on a three-year labor contract signed last year.
Board of Regents Chancellor Eric Fingerhut, who makes $196,019 to oversee the state’s higher education system, is among the highest-paid employees affected by Strickland’s decision.
It’s not clear how much money the state will save. Pay increases of 3.5 percent for the 3,400 affected workers would have cost an additional $5.3 million, said Keith Dailey, a spokesman for the governor.
The decision doesn’t affect employees who work for other elected state officials, such as the secretary of state or the attorney general.
Strickland, a Democrat, has been saying for months that the state budget is tight because of a struggling economy and the loss of revenue from tax cuts enacted two years ago under former Republican Gov. Bob Taft. The state spends about $25 billion a year.
Last month, Strickland issued an executive order saying state money can’t be used to provide food at meetings, seminars or conferences hosted by state agencies, with only a few exceptions.