Effective today, student workers and temporary employees receiving minimum wage at Southeast Missouri State University will see a pay increase of at least fifteen cents an hour.
Despite their exemption from a ballot measure Missouri voters passed in 2018 - which established an increase in the state’s minimum wage over a five-year period - Southeast decided higher pay was necessary in attracting and retaining employees.
Vice President for Finance and Administration, Kathy Mangels says the increase was discussed among the university’s Budget Review Committee last spring. Due to budget constraints, their recommendations weren’t quite at the level the state had proposed, but Mangels says they at least “recognized the need” in increasing wages the best they could.
“President Vargas agreed with that, and took it on to the Board of Regents,” says Mangels, and the recommendation was approved at their June 13 meeting.
As of July 1, pay rates have been adjusted to an institutional minimum wage of $8 per hour for student workers and $8.50 for temporary employees. The majority of student workers were previously making $7.85 per hour, while some - like information technology workers and shuttle bus drivers - made more than $8 per hour depending on their job responsibilities. Those employees who were previously making above minimum did not receive an adjustment.
This decision comes on the heels of a 1% - or $700 minimum - salary increase Southeast granted for full-time staff during the fiscal year 2020 budget planning process: the first raise in two years.
Both a decline in state funding and student enrollment have resulted in the university’s current budget situation. So, how are they able to swing these pay bumps?
According to Mangels, they’ve already cut more than $9.5 million from the general operating budget over the last two years. She says doing another voluntary retirement incentive program could lead to some benefit and salary savings in their personnel budget, as could “revenue enhancement.”
“We did increase the tuition this year, and also looked at other ways of getting revenue contributions from our auxiliaries, and some administrative fees,” says Mangels.
The state of Missouri plans to increase the current $8.60 per hour minimum by 85 cents until 2023, when it would top off at $12 per hour. Mangels says Southeast is not “currently expecting” to hit that mark.
“We have four more years of budget situations to look at,” says Mangels. “There could be changes in what we’re assuming. State support could increase beyond what we’re assuming.”
Although Mangels says it “may not be achievable” to get to $12, they intend to address the institutional minimum wage annually, if not raise it.
“Obviously each year we need to look at it again,” says Mangels. “But the commitment was to raise the student level up to $9.50 per hour, and for temporary employees to $10 per hour. It’s an ongoing commitment that the institution is considering.”