This week we will complete our breakdown of Gov. Sonny Perdue’s vetoes and redirects by listing his redirection of salary adjustments for public health nurses and state certified law enforcement. The General Assembly had appropriated funds for public health nurses and state certified law enforcement to make their salaries more comparable to other states and local entities.
According to the Georgia Department of Human Resources, Georgia is ranked at the bottom in pay for public nurses in the southeast. The starting salary for nurses is approximately $31,474 compared to Georgia market average of $61,206. This has made the recruitment and retention of public nurses difficult. In fact, Georgia lost 215 public health nurses in FY2004 and FY2005.
State law enforcement could also use some assistance with salary increases. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation has had up to 89 resignations from special agents due to non-competitive salaries with federal agencies and the private sector. The Georgia Department of Corrections has a basic entry pay of $23,613, which may contribute to the 20 percent turnover rate that has not changed in 20 years. This turnover rate has resulted in a loss of $6 million annually since it costs $3,000 to train each employee.
The Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles start their officers with an entry pay of $28,443 compared to the national average of $35,400 for parole officers. In addition, state troopers who start the Department of Public Safety with a salary of $31,400 are leaving to work for counties and cities that pay more. In fact, the Cobb County Police Department’s starting salary for an officer is $37,606.
Governor’s salary adjustment re-directs
The Department of Human Resources was appropriated $3,559,725 for public health nurse salary increases. These funds were to raise salaries to 85 percent of the market rate. The governor has redirected these funds for the department to use for general purposes.
The governor also redirected $11,704,555 for the Department of Corrections, $795,071 for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, $1,923,126 for the Department of Public Safety for POST “A” certified law enforcement, and $5,000,000 for the Department of Public Safety for Georgia State Patrol troopers.
The General Assembly attempted to prevent the mass exodus of positions in the state’s law enforcement agencies to local and federal agencies. A new pay scale would be implemented for state patrolmen under the FY08 budget. In addition, all POST “A”certified law enforcement personnel who did not receive the additional 3 percent cost of living adjustment in 2007 would receive a 3 percent COLA in the FY08 budget. The governor redirected the funds to be used for any purpose the agencies see needed for their programs. According to the Georgia Department of Public Safety, it currently costs $145,000 to train one trooper. From 2003 to 2006, the state lost 75 troopers through resignations. This has cost the state a total of $10,875,000.
Over the past couple of weeks we have listed the governor’s vetoes and redirects. The Constitution states that “The General Assembly shall annually appropriate those state and federal funds necessary to operate all the various departments and agencies.”
It is also clear that the governor can veto individual appropriations but highly questionable as to “redirecting”funds for a different purpose than stated in the appropriations bill.
Visit the Legislature’s home page at www.legis.state.ga.us
To view the FY2008 budget in its entirety:— www.senate.ga.gov - Tab - Budget Reports
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