Maryland state workers deserve a raise, too

Thank you for writing about why federal employees are long overdue for higher wages (“Unemployment is down, now pay should go up — even for federal workers,” Oct. 5). Maryland state employees deserve a raise, too.

Maryland is the wealthiest state in the country and ended the most recent fiscal year with a $504 million budget surplus. Gov. Larry Hogan brags that we “had the best year for business in Maryland in 15 years and the best year for job growth in a decade.” The state has increased its own revenue projections by $732 million over the next two years.

But our state’s prosperity has not been felt by all of us: a majority of Maryland state employees earn less than the living wage. Between stagnant wages and higher costs of living, the majority of state employees have barely enough to get by. So while the state has the fiscal capacity to invest in improving the lives of its employees, the current administration is choosing not to make that investment resulting in a vacancy of over 2,500 state positions.

This choice is costing our state money: high turnover rates, vacancies, low recruitment, poor retention and ballooning overtime pay are expensive problems faced by multiple agencies as a result of low wages.

Just like the federal government, if Maryland wants to attract quality workers, it should be willing to pay them what they deserve. Especially when opportunity for more money is so close, with surrounding states and the District of Columbia offering more competitive wages to public employees and Maryland’s private sector offering greater wage growth.

Losing good employees is threatening the quality of our vital public services. It's time to invest in them and in us. Governor Hogan needs to recognize that raising wages for Maryland’s state employees is in the state’s best interest.

Patrick Moran, Annapolis

The writer is president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Maryland Council 3.

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