Monday, July 2, 2007

Pay Plan

If you were going to have your car worked on, would you prefer the mechanic earn a pay raise based on the quality of workmanship or be guaranteed a pay raise despite performance?

Would you be willing to take your child to a doctor who will receive a paycheck no matter how inadequately he does his job? Or would you prefer a physician who knows that a poorly conducted medical practice means he will lose his customer base?

Even the most simple observation of human behavior will reveal that people are motivated to work harder when their compensation is tied to performance level.

How would you feel if your employer refused to increase your pay on merit, but gave across the board pay raises to all employees, without taking into account which employees were the most deserving?

I believe it is unfair when a co-worker who fail to carry his or her weight receives the same raise as those who pride themselves on working hard. In fact, in such an environment, co-workers who do not carry their weight will tend to put pressure on the worker who does a good job. They do not want their own weak work ethic to be exposed by someone else's positive job performance. A socialistic work environment in which pay raises are guaranteed across the board inevitably induces poor job performance, while a competitive work environment with a merit based system entices competition. This leads to quality job performance.

I have worked to enhance my understanding of the challenges facing state government by speaking with current and former state employees. In the process, I made a number of observations based on the feedback I received. I was struck by how demoralizing the workplace is for many of these individuals. One former employee described the situation as being "trapped in a golden cage." Dependent on the benefits that come with the state retirement plan and across the board raises, these individuals are afraid to quit their job and go into the private sector. At the same time, they feel they have little opportunity to advance within the ranks of the huge state bureaucracy.

Last week I wrote about an important solution to this problem. It is privatizing the state retirement system and allowing employees to control their own retirement and thus their own career path.

Based on observations, I also support merit based pay for government employees.

In the next few weeks, the House of Representatives will hold an interim study to look at developing a new pay system for teachers which will be based on how well the teacher does his or her job. It is my hope that this study will produce legislation that can be acted on in the upcoming legislative session, where I believe it will receive strong support from members of the House.

As the Daily Oklahoman recently editorialized, it is wrong for talented teachers to be paid the same as teachers who aren't doing their jobs well but are allowed to remain in the classroom because of government bureaucracy.

A recent study by the University of Arkansas, released in January, demonstrated the success our neighboring state is having with a merit pay system. The study demonstrated that in one year, students under the system improved their math scores in rank by 3.6 to 4.6 Normal Curve Equivalency (NCE). NCE scores show how students rank compared to other students across the country. This figure represents a gain of nearly 7 percentile points for the average student.

If the capitalistic system of rewarding good performance works in the private sector, shouldn't it be good enough for those who teach our children?

Two weeks ago I wrote about upcoming transportation upgrades being made in this area. I appreciate the feedback I received from that update. There is an obvious air of excitement surrounding these improvements. The good news continued this week as it was learned Logan County Commissioner Mark Sharpton has secured another $150,000 from the state in order to pave Simmons road between Coltrane and Sooner. This funding should be available later this year.

As always, I appreciate your feedback at 557-7350 or

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