Per K.S.A. 75-554, “Upon completion 120 months of state service…employees are eligible for longevity bonus pay.” This statute has been the bedrock of employee stability for our state workforce nearly a quarter century. I would argue that longevity pay is still very much a fundamental tenet of state employment. Additionally, Governor Brownback has recommended funding longevity pay at $50 in his FY 2012 budget report.
Without a doubt, the elimination of longevity pay will further accelerate the already alarming turnover rate in state service. The statewide turnover rate for Kansas state classified employees is 11.3%. Turnover for public safety workers including Corrections Officers is at 16.66%. State employees are leaving their positions due to insufficient benefits and low wages. According to the PEW Center the total average compensation for Kansas state employees: “is well below the national average. Employee benefits per dollar of salary are the worst in the nation.” Most business experts say that turnover of more than 10% actually significantly increases costs. With bad benefits and low pay, longevity is a small reward.
As we face increases to our KPERs contributions, a health insurance “premium surcharge” as well as proposed pay cuts and an ongoing hiring freeze, state employees simply cannot afford any more reductions to their paychecks. It adds up to a significant loss of income for state employees when it is all stacked up together.