MSSLC employees expect pay increases in March
Employees of the 23 state-supported living centers and hospitals overseen by the Health and Human Services Commission, including Mexia SSLC, will see significant pay raises in March.
Nearly 3,500 employees left the workforce since March 2020, said Scott Schalchlin, Health and Specialty Care System deputy executive commissioner.
“That means we’re serving fewer people in the state hospitals because we’ve had to take beds offline,” Schalchlin said. “In the state-supported living centers, it’s made it more of a challenge. We’ve had a lot more staff working overtime. We’ve had to use temporary contract nurses.”
According to the Texas Health and Human Services website, the commission and the Texas Department of State Health Services have hundreds of programs and services that help more than 7 million Texans a month.
State-supported living centers serve people with intellectual and developmental disabilities who are medically fragile or have behavioral problems.
A pay raise in March 2021 improved staff retention, but the system still needs to regenerate its pre-pandemic numbers, Schalchlin said.
“When we saw those pay raises at least stabilize things, we knew there was more we could do,” he said. “That’s why we’re doing these pay raises.”
The HHSC also wants to remain competitive in the market, he said.
He said the discussion regarding pay raises began in the summer but increased during the fall. Nearly every position will see a pay increase come March, he said. There will also be some reclassifications so employees can move into higher pay ranges.
He said there are two sources of funding: state funding and a federal match.
“These are rough numbers …but generally, for every $4 the state puts in the feds match it with $6,” he said.
Pay raises mean some employees can work one job to support their families, Schalchlin said.
“In other cases, they told me that due to inflation, and the cost of gas and everything else, this is going to help offset that and make their lives a lot easier,” he said. “It’s deserved. Our staff deserves it. They’re hard workers. And so I think it will make a real impact in their daily lives. Also, it’s going to attract new people.”
He said staff shortages should decrease, so employees have more opportunities to take off to be with their families and have a better work-life balance.
He said that investing more money into staff salaries means people are going to shop more and buy more which positively impacts the local economy.
“If more money is coming in, I’m guessing people are going to spend more,” he said.
The raises are significant, MSSLC Director Melinda Gentry said. The lowest raise Gentry noticed was around $700 a week.
“Our legislature and our leadership in Austin have been so supportive in assisting us and bringing all position’s salaries to a competitive job market range,” Gentry said. “I’m just giddy. I’m so excited for all the people who have worked here for so many years and are finally going to get this.”