Sen. Mike Fasano, the head of the budget committee that oversees transportation, said Friday that he wants other state agencies to do what DOT Secretary Stephanie Kopelousos' has done: stop giving automatic pay raises to contractors.
Kopelousos ordered the change afater legislators required all agencies to look at their contracts in the January special session, said Dick Kane, her spokesman. In a letter to Sen. Dave Aronberg on Wednesday, Kopelousos included a chart that shows the state saving at least $10 million this year from the salary hikes alone.
"If DOT can do it, that means that every other state agency should go back to their vendor and say we are not going to kick into the pay raise that was agreed to bec the dollars are not there,'' Fasano told the Herald/Times.
When the issue was raised during the legislative session, Fasano said Senate staff said that if the legislature ordered agencies to halt the so-called "escalation clauses" that allowed for automatic pay hikes, "that agency could be hit by a lawsuit by the vendor.''
But DOT ordered its staff to review 1,967 contracts and has begun renegotiating them to eliminate the automatic salary hikes and will not include the clause in future contracts. "I'm sure DOT looked into the ramifications,'' said Fasano, R-New Port Richey. "If DOT can do it, I beleive it can be done at every other agency,'' he said.
Meanwhile, the governor's office has not issued any directive ordering any of his agencies to renegotiate their contracts to remove any automatic salary hikes, but the governor wants his agencies to "spend taxpayer money wisely and enter into contracts appropriately,'' said his spokesman Sterling Ivey.
The Senate has embarked on an interim project into state contracts, that will look include the escalation clauses signed by many agencies with they give businesses to private vendors, said Jaryn Emhof, spokeswoman for Senate President Jeff Atwater. The Senate has also requested agencies provide them with a list of all contracts that include these clauses.