Correctional and parole employees with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice could see a pay increase on the horizon.
TDCJ officials released their Legislative Appropriation Request (LAR) on Wednesday that includes $235 million in funds to give correctional and parole employees a 10 percent pay bump over 2016 and 2017 if approved.
The pay raise for correctional officers would be from a $29,220 starting salary to $32,142. The maximum salary after seven and a half years would also increase from $38,888 to $42,777. Parole officers would also receive a similar increase with starting salaries getting an increase from $35,879 to $39,467. Maximum salary after 10 years would increase from $40,344 to $44,378.
The pay those TDCJ employees would see, before taxes, would increase by $243.50 to $336.17 per month. Ranking correctional officers, parole officers, correctional laundry and food service managers would also receive similar salary increases.
TDCJ spokesman Jason Clark said the move was made in order to retain current employees and be able to recruit employees to the system.
“(Correctional officers) and (parole officers) have one of the most demanding jobs in all of state government,” Clark said. “Hopefully, this will slow turnover rate and boost recruitment for those positions. We believe that lawmakers will weigh the proposal as they move toward this session.”
TDCJ isn’t just asking for a pay raise for their employees, but are also making a plea to the Texas Legislature on behalf of all State of Texas employees.
“We are asking state lawmakers to look at possibly give a pay raise to all state employes,” he said. “We’re committed to the long-term health and stability and important employee benefits for all employees. There’s not a specific percentage, but we want them to consider providing a pay raise.”
Clark said if the request was approved during the legislative session, which occurs every two years, then it would become a part of the baseline budget for TDCJ — meaning the state would guarantee continual funding rather than TDCJ having to ask every biennium for funds to cover the increased pay.
The 2014-2015 LAR included targeted pay increases for some correctional employees and employees in the Office of the Inspector General, but nowhere near the scope of this request.
The ball is now in the Legislature’s court that now has final authority over how much, if any, of the appropriation is granted of the pay raises.
The pay raise is one of several “exceptional items,” or special funding requests, that TDCJ included in its LAR. Most of the other items in the $546 million special request budget are for the increased cost of operation. This includes $174 million that would be for the University of Texas Medical Branch and Texas Tech that oversee TDCJ medical services.
Nearly $85 million would be for increased medical service cost, $59.4 million for pay raises, $23.8 million to hire nursing and staff that are lacking at certain locations, and $6.7 million would be for capital improvement like the purchase of medical equipment.
The Legislature will convene in 2015 when this measure will be considered.