The House of Representatives recently passed a measure that was part of the budget package that will increase funding for 452 correctional employees who were omitted from last year’s $2 pay raise. The Legislature has worked to insure all employees who have inmate contact received the raise.

This measure was taken from me last year and language changed that resulted in approximately 452 employees being omitted from the raise. I filed a bill this year to increase pay for these employees to the same level as their peers and to add other employees including probation and parole. My bill passed subcommittee but was not approved to be heard in the full Appropriations & Budget Committee. Once again, this bill was moved, and it was passed in our budget.

I have adopted an attitude that I don’t care who gets the credit as long as we get the job done. This is why during this session I have followed this measure to ensure we better fund our correctional employees. I was disappointed the bill did not include many more correctional employees and probation and parole officers. However, I voted yes to allow these 452 employees to receive raises.

To say I was irritated about how this was handled, is to put it mildly. That we would give private prison employees a raise while omitting our own correctional employees is preposterous and irresponsible. Department of Corrections leadership reports this provision was not made at their request, and they shared my concerns that we are providing raises for private correctional employees while ignoring the needs of our state correctional employees. The department also advised of concerns this measure would possibly violate contact agreements.

I have made inquiries to house leadership on how this measure was added. I am asking why we are providing a raise to private employees and not our own and if this provision would be a violation of state contracts.

In closing, I am outraged that my bill to assist correctional employees, including probation and parole officers, was annihilated while advancing legislation that enhances the finances of private prisons.

“Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed.” Isaiah 1:17

Justin (JJ) Humphrey represents Oklahoma House District 19. He can be reached at (405) 557-7382 The views and opinions expressed here are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of Texoma Marketing and Media Group.