Corrections officers hopeful state-mandated raises

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Reporter - Elizabeth Fields
Photographer - Mason Watkins

EDDYVILLE, Ky. - Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear wants to give state employees a raise.

In his budget address, he proposed 5 percent raises for anyone making $27,000 or less. Anyone making between 27 and 36-thousand would get a 3 percent raise. According to the Governor's Office, those two categories alone make up half of the all state employees.

That also makes up a large number of corrections officers who've been fighting for increased pay for years.

A current corrections officer estimates approximately 80 percent of people working at the State Penitentiary in Eddyville, Kentucky, would qualify for the highest level of raises. While he says that is a start, he's not sure it's enough to get them to stay.

Larry Bland, the President of the Barkley Lodge Fraternal Order of Police, says that they haven't gotten a raise in the last two budget periods, and the governor's speech shocked him, to say the least.

He and corrections officer Andrew Rasmussen have been fighting for increased salaries for years, and they say what workers give during their shifts is way more than they get on their paychecks, which averages out to approximately $11.76 an hour.

Rasmussen is a 17 year veteran, and would qualify for the 3 percent raise, but he says it is more important to keep hire-ins happy and employed, especially if the state increases minimum wage. He is afraid officers will make a run for it.

They are hopeful this budget is a sign they will be able to get retention pay for employees who've worked their way up over the years.

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