Smelser Bill Would Prohibit State Job Reclassifications

February 23, 1992|By Adam Sachs | Adam Sachs,Staff writer

ANNAPOLIS — A Carroll senator, disturbed that some state employees received pay raises this year even though salaries were frozen, has introduced legislation that would prohibit job reclassifications and certain pay-scale changes next year.

"I was under the impression the administration had pretty well frozen reclassifications, but that's not the case," said Sen. Charles H. Smelser, D-Carroll, Frederick, Howard. His bill would prohibit reclassifications and "pay plan amendments" from June 1, 1992, through June 30, 1993.

Smelser, a Budget and Taxation Committee member, also announced he plans to recommend salary cuts -- beginning July 1 -- for state employees earning $60,000 or more to help reduce a projected $1.2 billion fiscal 1993 shortfall. Such reductions would not need legislation.

Smelser, who contends that state government is top-heavy with administrators earning excessive salaries, said he plans to propose reducing salaries by degrees, depending on income levels. Workers earning between $60,000 and $70,000, for example, would have their salaries reduced by a lesser percentage than those earning between $90,000 and $100,000. He declined to reveal the percentage reductions.

The fiscal conservative said he has discovered that many state workers are earning higher salaries in fiscal 1992, which began July 1, even though cost-of-living and scheduled increment raises were abolished.

Some reclassifications -- and corre

sponding pay upgrades -- were justifiable, such as changes made when the state took over the Baltimore City jail, he said. But other boosts shouldn't have occurred, especially those that were created internally by individual agencies rather than by the Department of Personnel, he said.

"Maybe they were legitimate, but morally it shouldn't have been done when there was no increase for other employees," he said. "I want to call the public's attention to what's going on and let department people know someone is looking over their shoulder and attempting to do something about it."

The bill would cancel all pay plan amendments and job reclassifications made between Nov. 1, 1990, to May 31, 1992. Under the plan, pay changes approved would revert to the Nov. 1, 1990 salary grade.

Pay plans typically are amended when an agency has difficulty retaining employees for a particular position, and the problem is

attributable to salary levels, said a Department of Fiscal Services analyst.

Smelser said he doubted the legislature would nullify previously approved upgrades and roll back those salaries to November 1990 levels. His main goal is to freeze reclassifications for fiscal 1993, hesaid.

More than 18,000 job reclassifications -- mostly upgrades -- have taken effect in the last 13 months, representing nearly one-third of the state's 60,000 employees, said the fiscal analyst. About half were approved by the General Assembly in 1990, before the recession deepened. More than 5,000 reclassifications have taken effect since July, said the analyst.

Three thousand of those have been initiated internally by agencies, equating roughly to a $5 million increase, Smelser said.

"I'm not alarmed with lower-paid employees who received an increase, but many of these positions were higher-paying jobs," he said.

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