A little history is in order. State employees have only recently emerged from a dismal run of frozen and reduced compensation. For fiscal years 2010, 2011 and 2012, state employees received no increases in compensation of any sort. In fact, during those three years state employees were furloughed every year. That's three years when state employees gave back significant portions of their salaries to help the state through the fiscal crisis. Most of us did this willingly, knowing that furloughs were helping us preserve jobs. Because our salaries were lower for those three years we did not have to say goodbye to colleagues who might have been laid off. Given the choice between furloughs and personnel cuts (and to be clear, none of us were actually given that choice) most of us would choose the temporary pay reduction. In 2013, a proverbial light appeared at the end of the long tunnel: State employees received their first cost of living adjustment (known as a COLA) in four years — a 2 percent increase. And in 2014, the legislature approved another 3 percent COLA. As everyone knows, COLAs are only part of the pay package. From 2009 until 2013, state employees had also not received any merit increases. It was only just in 2014 when the state allocated 2.5 percent for merit raises.