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Ehrlich calls for salary hikes for correctional officers

January 14, 2006|BY TAMELA BAKER

tammyb@herald-mail.com

JESSUP, MD. -

Gov. Robert Ehrlich announced plans Friday for a sweeping pay package for correctional officers and other state employees, and local lawmakers hope the governor's proposals will help with staffing issues that have been plaguing local facilities.

The plan includes:

· An average across-the-board pay raise of more than 6 percent for all correctional officers.

· A rise in starting salaries of more than $5,000 for correctional officers, which raises the annual salary from $28,126 to $33,413.

· A retention bonus of $500 for correctional officers with fewer than five unscheduled absences within the preceding year.

· A 2 percent market adjustment to the police salary schedule in addition to cost-of-living adjustments for state police, Natural Resources police, Department of General Services police and police employed by other state agencies.

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· An average pay increase of 14 percent for employees with advanced professional degrees who teach offenders in juvenile and correctional facilities.

Ehrlich also announced plans to allocate $100 million to help pay for health care for future retirees.

The initial increases are retroactive to Jan. 1, and the cost-of-living adjustments would be effective July 1, according to Mark Vernarelli, spokesman for the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services.

Del. Christopher B. Shank, R-Washington and chairman of the Washington County Delegation to the General Assembly, said the plan would "help solve one part of the puzzle we have been dealing with" by helping fill vacancies and consequently cutting back on mandatory overtime. But he said staffing still is a priority.

"This is a welcome move by the governor and we thank him for listening to us," Shank said, but "by no means are we walking away from this issue. Staffing remains a concern for this delegation and the governor is aware of that."

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