BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) -- Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is asking lawmakers to include $60 million in next year's budget to give pay raises to state workers, the administration announced Wednesday.
The Republican governor will include dollars for the raises in his 2014-15 budget proposal, which will be presented to lawmakers Friday.
If lawmakers agree to the funding, the raises would be doled out to workers who receive a good rating on their annual evaluations in the fiscal year that begins July 1.
"In order for state government to run efficiently, public servants dedicate their lives to the day-to-day operations of the people's business," Jindal's top budget adviser, Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols, said in a statement.
She said state employees have worked to improve their productivity and created savings across agencies.
The Jindal administration and lawmakers haven't funded the annual pay hikes — known as "merit raises" across state government — for several years because of continued financial shortfalls, which required cuts to keep the state budget in balance.
After years of stagnant wages for workers, salary increases started flowing again across many agencies in the current fiscal year. At least $33 million in pay raises were awarded.
But Jindal and lawmakers didn't provide new dollars to cover the costs, so agencies could dole them out only if they found a way internally to pay for them.
That created disparities across state government, where some agencies gave raises to their employees while other departments kept wages flat, even though their workers reached the same performance rankings on their yearly evaluations.
Many department leaders in recent years have talked of the increased workloads, longer hours and higher expectations placed on their employees as budget cuts forced staff layoffs and program changes, and they've said they thought their workers deserved raises.
It will be several months before state workers know whether the raises recommended by Jindal are certain to arrive in their paychecks.
Jindal's budget proposal, to be presented in a joint House and Senate hearing, kicks off months of negotiations over the multibillion dollar state operating budget that will pay for programs and services next year.
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