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Lawmakers Consider Pay Raise for Corrections Officers

Missouri lawmakers are considering a proposal that would increase the minimum pay for officers who work in state prisons. KSMU's Missy Shelton reports.

Republican Senator Kevin Engler says there's clearly a need for Missouri to improve the pay of its corrections officers.

Engler is sponsoring legislation that would set a minimum level of pay for corrections officers and a pay scale for these workers.

Missouri did have a pay scale in effect several years ago but has not funded it.

Engler says the low pay has led to low morale and high turnover.

In his budget proposal, Governor Matt Blunt called for an eight percent pay increase for corrections officers.

Engler says he supports that but also wants to see the reinstatement of a graduated pay ladder that would reward officers for continuing to work in state prisons.

At a recent public hearing on Engler's proposal, Gary Gross, director of the Corrections Officers Association spoke in favor of the bill.

He says the state needs to compensate these officers for putting themselves in dangerous situations.

No one spoke in opposition to the proposal when it came before a senate committee.

The bill must gain committee approval before it can advance to the senate floor for debate.