One bill in the House, HB355, could remove the Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) from under the State Personnel Board. A request author for the bill, Rep. Charles Busby, said was made by the department.

“Right now we don’t pay enough money. One guy might be making $16,000 a year, learn his trade well and get picked up by a contractor who can pay $25,000 and then he’s gone,” said Rep. Busby.

Rep. Charles Busby

Busby said it’s not about the department getting more money, but potentially cutting back on work force so that they can pay their employees more, thus reducing the turnover rate.

MDOT sings a different tune.

“MDOT is challenged to maintain a workforce because of its current pay structure,” said Jarrod Ravencraft, public affairs director. “The agency did not ask to be removed from under SPB but for the flexibility to realign employees’ positions and salaries in an effort to retain workers. MDOT currently does not have the authority to realign salaries and pay employees what their job is worth.”

According to MDOT some of their job classes with the highest turnover rates include frontline workers such as maintenance and construction techs, accountants, auditors, transit staff and support staff.

“If they’re taken out from under the state personnel board, then they have the ability to compensate good employees more,” said Busby. “Where you have two guys making a smaller salary, we could have one person making that competitive $25,000 instead.”

However, MDOT says that isn’t enough. The Legislature’s bill to remove MDOT from SPB will not fix this problem. MDOT needs the Legislature to remove the compliance language from the agency’s appropriation bill to give authority to realign positions and salaries.

“Even if MDOT was removed from SPB purview, the agency would continue to follow the SPB employee handbook, policies and procedures for managing personnel,” Ravencraft said. “If the Legislature removed compliance language from MDOT’s appropriation bill, the agency would be able to create a more qualified, well-trained workforce that is paid equal to their peers working the same job duties. MDOT doesn’t need less people; it needs the ability to retain a competent, efficient workforce by paying a fair wage.”

If passed the law would go into effect July 1, 2018. If removed, the Executive Director of MDOT will consult with the Attorney General’s Office on matters of personnel actions in compliance with state and federal law.

Read the bill HERE