Walmart pay raise takes effect

Nearly 11,700 Arizona Walmart employees received a raise this week.The move was part of a nationwide plan to increase the pay of nearly 40 percent of Walmart Stores Inc.'s workforce. Under the plan, hourly employees making a lower wage were bumped to $9 an hour, which is $1.75 an hour above federal minimum wage and 95 cents an hour above Arizona's minimum wage.The increase, effective last Saturday, affected 500,000 full- and part-time employees, including 11,699 Arizonans. They'll receive their first paycheck with the raise on April 23.Walmart is the country's largest employer and was Arizona's largest in 2014 with 32,000 employees.The Arkansas-based company has additional pay raises on the horizon.Beginning this summer, department manager jobs will pay a minimum of $13 an hour. Early next year, department manager pay will increase to $15 an hour, while minimum hourly pay for existing associates will increase to $10 an hour.By February 2016, all current associates will earn at least $10 per hour. New associates will start at $9 an hour in 2016, and after a six-month training program, their pay will rise to $10 an hour, Walmart spokeswoman Delia Garcia said.Since the plan was announced Feb. 19, retail analysts have weighed in saying that the pay increase will have far-reaching effects beyond helping Walmart's lower-paid workers in Arizona and nationwide.It also will cause other employers to raise minimum wages and will help them retain employees, they said. Already, several companies, including Target, have announced pay increases. Reach the reporter at [email protected] Continue Reading

Roberts: Is Ducey joking? A 4/10th’s of a percent pay raise for teachers?

This is Gov. Doug Ducey on Monday:“It’s time for a raise for Arizona teachers.”In his State of the State address, he called it "a commitment our educators can take to the bank.”This is Gov. Ducey’s budget on Friday:Teachers will get a 2 percent raise over five years.Put another way, they’ll be getting a four-tenths of a percent raise next year, should Ducey’s budget pass. DUCEY: Education is my top budget priority Hey, teachers, don’t spend it all in one place.Overall, Ducey plans to spend $114 million in new money on K-12 schools next year, spread among a dozen areas. Of that, $14 million would go to pay raises that would amount to $182 for a teacher who makes the state’s average salary ($45,500).That ought to stop the stampede out of Arizona’s classrooms. Teacher shortage. Schmeacher shortage.I know Ducey’s in a tough spot because money's tight due to a quarter century of tax cuts and due to the fact that he wants to continue cutting taxes every year.But Ducey could have proposed delaying previously approved corporate tax cuts set to be phased in next year, allowing him to double his proposed investment in public education. Even freezing automatic 20 percent increases in the corporate tax credit that funds private school tuition would have signaled a commitment to public education.But a 4/10s of a percent pay raise? ROBERTS: Will Ducey back up pretty promises with cash? This, again, is Ducey on Monday:“This is an investment by the state of Arizona in recognizing and rewarding the work of our teachers in a way that is fair, permanent and fiscally responsible.”And they can take that to the bank …Or maybe to a payday loan center. Continue Reading

Indianapolis mayor’s pay raise scrapped

The chief executive of the state's largest city will remain Indiana's eighth-highest-paid mayor.But an Indianapolis City-County Council committee Tuesday voted itself a raise.A proposal to raise the mayor's salary from $95,000 to $125,000 was pulled off the table by its sponsor, Democratic Councilor Mary Moriarty Adams, before a meeting of the Administration and Finance Committee. But a 44 percent raise for councilors was left intact and approved by a 6-1 vote, with Republican Councilwoman Marilyn Pfisterer voting against it.The proposal, hiking salaries from $11,400 to $16,400, goes to the full council next Monday for consideration.Adams said she pulled from the mayor's raise from proposal because outgoing Republican Mayor Greg Ballard and Mayor-elect Joe Hogsett, a Democrat, agreed that it would be imprudent at this time."Both have expressed significant concerns with the section dealing with the mayor’s salary,” Moriarty Adams said.Adams said in her three decades on the council and mayor there only have been two pay raises, the last in 2002.  Although the job is considered part time, she said most council members work full time. Council members attend not only council meetings but community and zoning meetings and city events."I put in a lot of evenings on council and committee hearings, but a lot of us are pulled away from our day jobs to attend events," said Moriarty Adams, who works for the Marion County assessor's office. "We take time off and vacation days. It is only fair that we be properly reimbursed."The proposal requires the council to find the money from within its own council budget. Moriarty Adams said the council could pay for the raises with money saved from the elimination of four-at-large seats and from cutbacks in other areas, such as travel and hiring.The proposal does not call for raises for council member attendance at meetings. Each council Continue Reading

Budget chairman skeptical of Bentley still seeking teacher pay raise

Having apparently gotten full funding of teacher insurance, Gov. Robert Bentley now wants a two percent teacher pay raise, his other major priority for the Education Trust Fund budget, to pass the Legislature.Whether that will happen is an open question. One of the Legislature’s budget chairmen Monday expressed skepticism about the possibility of a pay raise.Bentley, speaking to reporters Monday after a speech to the Governor’s Preparedness Conference at the Renaissance Hotel in Montgomery, said his office was “still pushing” for the pay raise, a little over a week after the Governor and lawmakers reached an agreement on funding for the Public Education Employees Health Insurance Plan (PEEHIP).“We still feel money is available to do (the pay raise),” he said. “We have asked a lot of our teachers and state employees over the last three years. We have asked them for a reduction in pay in order to get through difficult problems related to our budget over the last three years.”The Governor praised lawmakers for agreeing to increase the state’s share of individual plans for PEEHIP to $780 per individual per month, up from the Legislature’s proposed $754 before spring break. The amount – roughly $61 million out of the ETF – should allow PEEHIP to close a total deficit of $220 million without having to increase out-of-pocket costs for members, Bentley said.Lawmakers are expected to bring up the compromise budget in a conference committee this week. Senate Finance and Taxation Education chairman Trip Pittman, R-Daphne, Monday sounded dubious about the possibility of a pay raise.“We had an agreement a week ago last Friday that included that we were going to fully fund PEEHIP,” he said. “We’d all like to see more money available for pay raise, but it has to be sustained.”The Legislative Fiscal Office estimates the cost of a 1 percent teacher pay raise at about $38 million. Continue Reading

House members critical of pay raises

Members of the House of Representatives Tuesday criticized Gov. Robert Bentley for raising a number of cabinet and staff members’ salaries, many by double-digit percentages.Inside Alabama Politics reported Monday that four cabinet members – Mac Gipson of the Alcohol Beverage Control Board; Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs Director Jim Byard; Alabama Department of Insurance Commissioner Jim Ridling and Revenue Commissioner Julie Magee – got raises of more than $73,000 last year, to $164,419 a year. All had previously made $91,014 a year, an increase of 81 percent.Other cabinet members received raises ranging from two percent to 45 percent. Medicaid Commissioner Stephanie Azar’s salary went from $141,785 to $205,793, a 45 percent increase. Jeanna Ross, the commissioner of the Department of Early Childhood Education, received a $35,000 raise, raising her annual salary from $110,000 to $145,296 a 32 percent increase.Bentley also gave 33 staff members raises, ranging from $2,078 a year to $33,963.“It is criminal, and I repeat criminal, as far as this bill is concerned when someone at the ABC Board goes from $91,000 a year to $73,000 as a pay raise, that’s criminal,” said Rep. Paul Beckman, R-Prattville.The Legislature last year passed a bill removing restrictions on pay for cabinet members. The bill passed with only five dissenting votes in the House and no dissenting votes in the Senate.Messages seeking comment were left Monday evening with the governor. In a statement, Bentley said the State Personnel Board approved the raises in August."This legislation was long overdue, and allows state government to be competitive with the private sector in getting highly qualified people to run important state agencies that provide vital services to our citizens," the statement said. "I make no apology for the salary increase for my cabinet and staff. I appreciate their outstanding service to the people of our Continue Reading

House OKs education budget, teacher pay raise

The Alabama House of Representatives on Tuesday approved a $6.3 billion education budget and a 4 percent pay raise for most educators.The budget, which provides funding increases for many services, passed on a unanimous 105-0 vote. The pay raise, a separate bill, passed 104-0. Both bills move to the Senate.Neither measure provoked significant debate. The pay raise went through as fast as House officials could call it up and get members to vote.The $6.28 billion budget approved is the largest Education Trust Fund since 2008, before the Great Recession led to an ebbing of state revenues. The 2017 ETF is about $290 million higher than the current budget, an increase of about 4.8 percent.Educators making $75,000 a year or less will see a 4 percent pay raise. The current salary matrix for K-12 teachers tops out at just under $63,000. Educators making more than $75,000 a year would see a 2 percent raise. The budget will provide for the hiring of 475 more teachers in grades seven through 12.Teachers received a 2 percent pay raise in 2013, but education groups said that raise made up for increased costs educators began paying the year before.The budget also fully funds a budget request from the Public Education Employees Health Insurance Program (PEEHIP). But the program faces a significant deficit next year, and PEEHIP officials have not ruled out co-pay or premium increases to address the shortfall. Some Democrats and education groups sought a larger raise due to the threat of higher insurance. House Ways and Means Education chairman Bill Poole, R-Tuscaloosa, said after the vote the increase for teachers had to be balanced against other services.“There are lots of needs,” he said. “There has to be a balance. With the unanimous vote, I hope that’s a sign we struck that balance.”The budget also provides an additional $29.3 million for Other Current Expenses, money that local districts can use for other needs. The budget also increases money for Continue Reading

House GOP supports teacher pay raise, broadband grants

The Alabama House Republican caucus will start 2016 as it has many legislative years: One hand filled with businesses bills, and the other balled into a fist vigorously shaking in the direction of Washington.But the GOP in the lower chamber will also push for a pay raise for teachers, grants to allow school districts to install wireless broadband and a tax credit for small businesses that add employees.“Our ‘Right for Alabama’ agenda focuses on important issues like job creation, protecting public school students from harm, demanding the dignity that unborn life deserves and other vital initiatives,” House Speaker Mike Hubbard, R-Auburn.Legislators should file the bills Friday, according to the Speaker’s office. Republicans currently hold 70 of the 105 seats in the lower House, with two vacancies.Raising pay for teachers will likely have broad support. The Education Trust Fund should grow in 2017 – though estimates won’t come out until next week – and leaders in both parties expect some kind of salary increase. But Rep. Donnie Chesteen, R-Geneva, who chaired the caucus’ platform committee, said it was “premature” to discuss specifics of the raise.The caucus also plans to introduce a bill that would extend a $1,500 tax credit for businesses with 75 employees or fewer for each qualified employee hired in a year. House Republicans will also propose a bill called the WIRED Act, intended to provide grants to school districts to install wireless infrastructure.The agenda also includes measures likely to be popular with Republican voters but otherwise symbolic. The caucus will support putting the state’s 1953 right-to-work law in the state Constitution. The House GOP will also support a ban on the sale of fetal body parts, already illegal under federal law. The caucus will also oppose any gun control measures enacted by President Barack Obama and attempts to settle Middle Eastern Continue Reading

When asked to trim costs, Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office cut pay raises to keep Tent City

The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office is eliminating pay raises for some of its jail detention staff to help foot the growing bill for a racial-profiling case that already has cost taxpayers $43 million over the past three years.The Sheriff's Office considered several other cost-cutting options, including the closing of the agency’s famed Tent City jail — a longtime pet project for Sheriff Joe Arpaio.The $8 million in budget cuts were compiled by the Sheriff's Office to pay for the latest round of legally required mandates. The $8 million budget shuffle, which will finance training and personnel changes required by a recent court order, was approved by the county's Board of Supervisors last week.Tent City is projected to cost $8.6 million to run over the next year.The decision to cut funds for the detention-staff raises, a jail special-response team and other programs to pay for legal penalties has drawn criticism from within the Sheriff's Office and raised questions from at least two county supervisors.Critics say Tent City’s tough-on-crime appeal ensures the facility’s survival at the expense of necessary programs and positions.About 400 of Tent City’s 2,176 beds were occupied by full-time inmates on Tuesday. Another 400 sleep at the tents but are on work furlough, meaning they’re released into the community for 12 hours a day.Other jails operated by the county also have been operating with high vacancy rates, at least partly because arrest rates throughout the county are down.Towers Jail, another facility considered for closing, on Tuesday was holding about 58 percent of its capacity of 1,080. Hundreds of other vacancies are spread throughout the county's other jails as well."Inmate population was extremely low; we have more beds than we need," County Supervisor Steve Gallardo said. "So what’s the possibility of Continue Reading

Gov. Doug Ducey, despite lean budget, awards hefty pay raises to his staff

Gov. Doug Ducey, who this year offered teachers raises of less than 1 percent because of the state's austere budget, has given 44 of his staff members raises of up to 20 percent each over the past 2½ years, records obtained by The Arizona Republic show.Those documents show Ducey has distributed raises to most of his staff since he was elected in 2015, with some getting multiple bumps in pay. The governor also promoted at least 40 employees, with their salaries increasing by amounts ranging from 5 to 100 percent. Just more than one-fourth of those receiving additional pay from promotions also received merit pay raises.The average raise for a Ducey staffer was 11 percent since he took office.The bulk of state employees have not had across-the-board pay hikes in recent years,  though the average pay for state workers has increased 4.2 percent, to $45,981, since Ducey took office because of merit raises to select workers. That increase mirrors inflation, as the consumer price index increased 4.2 percent in the metro-Phoenix area during the Ducey era. It increased 5.6 percent nationally, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.Ducey, meanwhile, also has been generous to political appointees.Department of Child Safety Director Greg McKay's pay increased by 33 percent since Ducey took office, lifting his annual salary to $215,250. Registrar of Contractors Director Jeff Fleetham, a donor to Ducey's gubernatorial campaign and political action committee, received a nearly 13 percent hike, jumping his pay to $115,000. Department of Public Safety Director Frank Milstead was given a 12.6 percent raise, lifting his pay to $197,000. And Parks Director Sue Black, recruited by  Ducey from Wisconsin, was given a 9.4 percent raise, bringing her pay to $175,000.The Republican governor rewarded Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) Director Thomas Betlach, who Continue Reading

Labor federation AFL-CIO finds that more CEOs got pay raises than pay cuts in 2008

2008 was a rough year for many of us - unemployment skyrocketed, millions of homes were foreclosed upon, businesses around the nation shuttered.For CEOs? Not so much. In fact, more U.S. chief executives got pay raises than had their pay cut in 2008, according to an AFL-CIO survey released on Tuesday.The survey found that 480 execs got pay raises, 463 got pay cuts.  The median CEO salary rose 7 percent in 2008.  CEO perks jumped 13 percent to $336,246 on average, Reuters reports.The AFL-CIO, the country's largest labor federation, calculated executive pay by including stock options granted but not yet vested, according to Reuters.  Using this method, for example, Citigroup CEO Vikram Pandit made $38 million in 2008.  The SEC filing on Pandit's compensation, which does not include non-vested stock, finds he only made $11 million."When it comes to CEO pay, many companies continue to hew to the fiction of pay for performance," Daniel Pedrotty, director of the AFL-CIO's Office of Investment, told Reuters. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading