Wisconsin GOP lawmakers approve pay raise for state employees, especially corrections officers

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin Republican lawmakers passed a plan Thursday to raise pay for state employees, including boosting starting wages for corrections officers to $33 an hour.

The raises passed by GOP lawmakers who control the Legislature’s budget committee also include 4% and 2% pay raises respectively in each of the next two years for state employees.

Those increases fall short of Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ request to raise state employee pay by 5% and 3% in each year of the budget. But the Republican plan matches what the governor proposed for corrections officers.

The Department of Corrections has struggled for years to hire enough officers, with average vacancy rates at 34% across the state’s prison system and some facilities employing less than half the staff they need.

Current starting wages for corrections officers are roughly $19 an hour and boosted an additional $4 an hour by federal pandemic relief funds that expire at the end of the month.

The Republican plan continues a $5 an hour pay increase for officers in prisons with vacancy rates above 40% and increases add-on pay for those in maximum-security prisons from $2 to $3 an hour.

The budget must be voted on by the Republican-controlled Assembly and Senate before going to Evers, who can make changes using his partial veto power before signing it into law.