State Employee Pay Switch Plan Placed on Hold


A controversial plan to switch thousands of state employees from semi-monthly to biweekly pay next month is on hold, after the state Enterprise Resource Planning Board voted Monday to delay the switchover.

State Auditor Glen Gainer objected to the delay, accusing legislative leaders of “playing politics with pay” in raising objections to the change — particularly in that the current biweekly pay plan provides salaried employees with a bonus 27th paycheck once every 11 years.

“This is nothing but political gamesmanship,” Gainer said after the meeting. “Every major employer in the (Kanawha) Valley pays this way.”

Legislative leaders have objected to the current biweekly plan over the bonus paycheck scenario, which would cost an estimated $55 million when it next comes up in 2020. Legislative auditors contend the additional paycheck would be illegal, since state law prohibits paying state employees prior to their services being rendered.

During interim meetings in October, Senate President Bill Cole, R-Mercer, said of biweekly pay: “We intend to pay every dime we owe every state employee … but we don’t intend to find $4 million or $5 million (a year) in the state budget to handle the decimal point.”

However, Gainer said Monday that the delay will cost taxpayers money by complicating calculations of leave time and pensions.

“I don’t believe we did anything wrong,” he told the ERP board. “I believe we’re being asked to chase pennies with dollars, and it will cost the taxpayers.”

The issue with the current biweekly plan is that it divides the year into 26 14-day pay periods, leaving the 365th day as a bonus day that legislative leaders contend would result in state employees essentially being paid twice for the day.

Gainer on Monday provided a display showing that the Legislature’s plan to incorporate the 365th day by calculating pay periods of 26.08928571 days also overpays salaried employees while complicating pension and leave time calculations.

Using a hypothetical employee with a salary of $27,990, under the current biweekly plan, the employee comes up $179 short in the transition year, and gets an extra paycheck of $1,076 in 2020, for an additional $897 overall.

With the legislative plan, Gainer said, that employee is shorted $234 in the transition year and $95 each year afterward, but gets $977 of additional pay in 2020, for an additional $359 overall.

Gainer also noted that the ERP Board approved the transition to biweekly pay more than two years ago, following recommendations of a 15-member steering committee that included representatives of the Legislature who endorsed the change.

“What changed between Oct. 7, 2013 and today, other than political change in the Legislature?” Gainer asked.

Treasurer John Perdue made the motion to delay the second wave of employees set to switch to biweekly pay in December.

Perdue, who is expected to be named as party in an employee grievance filed by 24 Division of Highways employees who contend they were shorted pay during the first wave that switched 9,000 employees to biweekly pay, first called for the delay in September.

The ERP Board, created to oversee implementation of the state’s $123 million wvOasis supercomputer, is made up of the governor, auditor and treasurer.

Contact Information

Charleston Gazette-Mail Reach Phil Kabler at, 304-348-1220 or @PhilKabler on Twitter.