Governor Laura Kelly today announced a series of new pay initiatives designed to address critical staffing shortages at several 24/7 State facilities, including Kansas Department of Corrections (KDOC) facilities, Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services (KDADS) state hospitals and the Kansas Commission of Veterans Affairs Office (KCVAO) veterans’ homes.

“My administration and the Kansas Department of Corrections have worked over the past three years to address staffing shortages and overcrowding that have impacted corrections facilities for years,” Governor Kelly said. “But even after implementing a pay increase for corrections officers in 2019, Kansas, like the rest of the country, faced new challenges caused by COVID-19. This new pay plan is a necessary step to address the ongoing challenges brought on by the pandemic,  support our efforts to prioritize public health and safety, and care for our most vulnerable populations.”

Kansas is not alone in staffing shortages. States across the U.S. have experienced critically low staffing levels in 24/7 facilities, including Nebraska, Florida, and Arkansas to name a few. Each of these states have implemented various pay plans designed to address similar staff shortages.

The Kansas plan is comprehensive and will provide both long-term and temporary pay increases, including a permanent base pay increase and temporary pay differentials, with “differential pay” defined as extra compensation for employees during extraordinary times of staff shortages.

The pay plan includes the following for state employees:

  • Permanent Base Pay Increases for all KDOC Job Classes & Nursing Job Classes
  • Temporary Pay Differentials for Hourly Employees in the following areas:
    • Differential #1: All 24/7 Facility Staff
    • Differential #2: Uniformed KDOC Security Staff at 24/7 Facilities
    • Differential #3: Nursing Staff at 24/7 Facilities
    • Differential #4: All Staff Working at 24/7 Facilities that are designated at “critical staffing levels” with 25% (or higher) vacancy rates.
  • One-Time, $3,500 Bonuses for Salaried Staff at KDOC, KDADS and KCVAO 24/7 facilities.

“The staff in our 24/7 facilities are the frontline workers for some of the most necessary and, frankly, thankless work that we do for Kansans,” Governor Kelly said. “These pay increases are well deserved – and my administration will continue working to support our state employees and their families.”

“Employees of the Kansas Department of Corrections are committed to their service to promote safer communities throughout the state. Never has that been more evident than over the past several months when staff vacancies have required our employees to take on more responsibilities and work longer hours to satisfy the agency’s mission,” KDOC Secretary Jeff Zmuda said. “The Governor’s pay plan recognizes the incredible contributions of our employees to public safety and provides a great incentive to retain their experience and commitment within the organization while providing an opportunity for relief as more job seekers join them in our workforce.”

“Governor Kelly’s plan is an excellent step towards making workers and the communities they serve safer,” KOSE President Sarah LaFrenz said. “These raises and pay differentials mean frontline workers like corrections officers and state hospital staff could finally get the safe staffing levels they need and proper pay for their unthinkable sacrifices on behalf of Kansans. As facilities around the nation face a staffing crisis that endangers the public, workers and their families – this plan shows real leadership by making this crisis and addressing it an actual priority. We will continue, as we always have, to advocate directly to the Governor, her administration, and the Kansas Legislature towards a final, long-term solution.”

Kansas law prohibits several employment-related bonus tools, like retention bonuses, for state employees that are available to other states. The law also limits the amount that can be paid to staff in a single Fiscal Year. Governor Kelly’s plan recommends the maximum bonus for salaried staff that is allowed under the current law.

The pay increases will be phased in with the base-pay increases taking effect during the next pay period, beginning November 28. Governor Kelly will issue an Executive Directive authorizing the initial pay increases and will pay for them with existing agency funds. She will work with Legislative leadership to fund the rest of the pay plan and get it fully implemented as soon as possible.

The incentive program focuses on, but is not limited to: juvenile corrections officers, corrections officers, nurses, and others who provide direct care. Additionally, Governor Kelly is also ordering KDOC to purchase and provide Multi-Threat Tactical Safety Vests to all Corrections Officers who work in 24/7 facilities.

Please find the Kansas plan here.