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Md. budget analysts recommend delaying officers' raises

February 22, 2006|by TAMELA BAKER

ANNAPOLIS

tammyb@herald-mail.com

Shortly after this year's General Assembly began, Gov. Robert Ehrlich announced a plan to raise salaries of correctional officers throughout the state.

But a budget analysis from the Department of Legislative Services has recommended holding back a portion of it, at least until July.

"It's outrageous, it's ridiculous and we need to revisit it," said Del. Christopher B. Shank, R-Washington.

"This budget analyst has recommended the General Assembly cut the funds for the retroactive pay increase and other incentives. This would mean that correctional officers would not get their promised raises until July," Mary Ann Saar, secretary of the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, said in a statement released Thursday. "Correctional officers need, deserve and were promised this money now, and to deny this retroactive pay raise is a slap in the face of every man and woman who works in the prisons and detention centers every day to ensure our safety."

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The governor's budget requests for the Division of Correction is scheduled for a hearing before the House Appropriations Committee on Thursday. The original plan calls for:

  • 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.

  • 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 were retroactive to Jan. 1, and the cost-of-living adjustments would be effective July 1, Mark Vernarelli, spokesman for the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, has said.

"Correctional officers need this raise more than anybody I can think of," Shank said. "I will lobby furiously to see that this cut doesn't happen."

Saar said Ehrlich pledged $15.5 million for the retroactive payments, and that the money had been budgeted by the Department of Budget and Management.

"To have anyone in government pull back money the governor has promised is an outrage," her statement said.

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