State Employee Issues

Classified and Unclassified Employees

The state workforce is composed of classified and unclassified employees. HB 2391 (2015) revised the Kansas Civil Service Act to direct all persons in newly hired positions, including any rehired employee and any current employee who voluntarily transfers, or is voluntarily promoted or demoted, into an unclassified position. If federal law requires a state agency to maintain personnel standards on a merit basis and that agency has converted classified positions to unclassified positions, the state agency must adopt a binding statement of agency policy to meet the federal requirements.

Classified employees are selected through a competitive process, while unclassified positions can be filled through direct appointment, with or without competition. While unclassified employees are essentially at will employees who serve at the discretion of their appointing authority, classified employees are covered by the “merit” or “civil service” system, which provides additional employment safeguards. These safeguards are as follows:

All actions, including recruitment, hiring, classification, compensation, training, retention, promotion, discipline, and dismissal of state employees, shall be:
Based on merit principles and equal opportunity;
Made without regard to race, national origin or ancestry, religion, political affiliation, or other non-merit factors and shall not be based on sex, age, or disability except where those factors constitute a bona fide occupational qualification or where a disability prevents an individual from performing the essential functions of a position; and
Employees are to be retained based on their ability to manage the duties of their position.

Characteristics of State Employees

In fiscal year (FY) 2019, a profile of classified state employees reflected the following.

The “average” classified employeeThe “average” unclassified employee
Is 46 years of ageIs 45 years of age
Has 14 years of serviceHas 10 years of service
Earns $43,941 per yearEarns $50,119 per year

State Employee Benefits

Among the benefits available to most state employees are medical, dental, and vision plans; long-term disability insurance; deferred compensation; and a cafeteria benefits plan, which allows employees to pay dependent care expenses and non-reimbursable health care expenses with pre-tax dollars. In addition, state employees accrue vacation and sick leave. The vacation leave accrual rate increases after 5, 10, and 15 years. In general, the State also provides nine to ten days of holiday leave for state employees.

Retirement Plans

Most state employees participate in the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System (KPERS). Employees contribute 6.0 percent of earnings bi-weekly based on salary. The state contribution is set by law each year. In addition to the regular KPERS program, there are plans for certain law enforcement groups, correctional officers, judges and justices, and certain Board of Regents unclassified employees. Contributions from both the employee and the State differ from plan to plan.

Compensation of State Employees

Kansas statutes direct the Director of Personnel Services, after consultation with the Director of the Budget and the Secretary of Administration, to prepare a pay plan for classified employees, which “shall contain a schedule of salary and wage ranges and steps.” The statutes also provide that this pay plan can be modified by provisions in an appropriation bill or other act. When the Governor recommends step movement on the classified pay plan, a general salary increase, or both, funding equivalent to the percentage increase for classified employees generally is included in agency budgets to be distributed to unclassified employees on a merit basis.

The previous Kansas Civil Service Basic Pay Plan consisted of 34 pay grades, each with 13 steps. The difference between each step was approximately 2.5 percent, and the difference between each salary grade was approximately 5.0 percent. Employees typically are hired into a job at the minimum of the salary grade. Until recently, assuming satisfactory work performance, classified employees would receive an annual 2.5 percent step increase, along with any other general adjustment in salary approved by the Legislature. No classified step movement was recommended or approved from FY 2001 to FY 2006. In FY 2007, the Legislature approved a 2.5 percent step movement, effective September 10, 2006. There has been no further step movement since FY 2009.

New Classified Employee Pay Plans

The 2008 Legislature established five new pay plans for executive branch classified state employees and authorized multi-year salary increases for classified employees, beginning in FY 2009, who are identified in positions that are below-market in salary.

The legislation authorized a four-year appropriation totaling $68.0 million from all funds, including $34.0 million from the State General Fund (SGF), for below-market pay adjustments (excluding the FY 2009 appropriation of $16.0 million). Due to budgetary considerations, the appropriation for FY 2012 was eliminated, bringing the total appropriation to $58.7 million. The State Finance Council approved an appropriation of $11.4 million, including $8.1 million from the SGF, for FY 2013.

Finally, the legislation codified a compensation philosophy for state employees, which was crafted by the State Employee Pay Philosophy Task Force. This philosophy was endorsed by the State Employee Compensation Oversight Commission during the 2007 Interim. The pay philosophy includes:

  • The goal of attracting and retaining quality employees with competitive compensation based on relevant labor markets;
  • A base of principles of fairness and equity to be administered with sound fiscal discipline; and
  • An understanding that longevity bonus payments shall not be considered as part of the base pay for classified employees.

The following table reflects classified step movement and base salary increases since FY 1997.

Fiscal YearSalary Adjustment
1997Step Movement: 2.5 percent
Base Adjustment: None
1998Step Movement: 2.5 percent
Base Adjustment: 1.0 percent
1999Step Movement: 2.5 percent
Base Adjustment: 1.5 percent
2000Step Movement: 2.5 percent
Base Adjustment: 1.0 percent
2001Step Movement: 2.5 percent
Base Adjustment: None
2002Step Movement: None
Base Adjustment: 3.0 percent, with 1.5 percent effective for full year and 1.5 percent effective for half a year
2003Step Movement: None
Base Adjustment: None
2004Step Movement: None
Base Adjustment: 1.5 percent effective for last 23 pay periods
2005Step Movement: None
Base Adjustment: 3.0 percent
2006Step Movement: None
Base Adjustment: 2.5 percent, with 1.25 percent effective for full year and 1.25 percent effective for half a year
2007Step Movement: 2.5 percent, effective September 10, 2006
Base Adjustment: 1.5 percent
2008Step Movement: None
Base Adjustment: 2.0 percent
2009Step Movement: None 
Base Adjustment: 2.5 percent; Below-Market Salary Adjustments
2010Step Movement: None
Base Adjustment: None; Below-Market Salary Adjustments
2011Step Movement: None
Base Adjustment: None; Below-Market Salary Adjustments
2012Step Movement: None
Base Adjustment: None
2013Step Movement: None
Base Adjustment: None
2014Step Movement: None
Base Adjustment: None
Employee Bonus: $250 Bonus
2015Step Movement: None
Base Adjustment: None
2016Step Movement: None
Base Adjustment: None
2017Step Movement: None
Base Adjustment: None
2018Step Movement: None
Base Adjustment: 2.5 percent < 5 years; 5.0 percent > 5 years with no adjustment; 2.5 percent Judicial
2019Step Movement: None
Base Adjustment: 5.0 percent if not included in 2017 Legislative Pay Plan; 2.5 percent if included at 2.5 percent in 2017 Legislative Pay Plan; 5.0 percent uniformed corrections officers; 5.0 percent nonjudicial; 2.0 percent judicial
2020Step Movement: None
Base Adjustment: 2.5 percent if not otherwise receiving an increase for FY 2020; 15.9 percent for uniformed corrections officers; 5.0 percent for other correctional employees who routinely work with offenders
2021Step Movement: None
Base Adjustment: None

FY 2021. The 2020 Legislature authorized 40,719.9 full-time equivalent (FTE) positions for FY 2021, which is a net decrease of 67.4 positions below the FY 2020 approved number of FTE positions. Included among the adjustments are the following:

  • Added 24.0 FTE positions in the Topeka Correctional Facility for correctional officers in the Security program for FY 2021;
  • Added 10.0 FTE positions in the Department for Children and Families (DCF) to increase staff for the Prevention and Protection Services program located at the DCF Service Centers for FY 2021;
  • Added 8.0 FTE positions in DCF for regional case management positions for the Family First Prevention Services program for FY 2021;Added 7.0 FTE positions in the Office of the Attorney General to expand the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit for FY 2021. This addition allows the unit to meet current needs for law enforcement, analytical, and prosecution capacity to combat provider fraud and abuse of patients; and
  • Deleted 119.5 FTE positions in the Lansing Correctional Facility for a continued staff reduction plan as operations migrate to the new facility for FY 2021. The position decrease is primarily in both the Security and Support Services programs.

FTE positions are permanent positions, either full time or part time, but mathematically equated to full time. For example, two half-time positions equal one full-time position. For purposes of this article, FTE position totals also include unclassified temporary positions that are considered “permanent” because they are authorized to participate in the state retirement system.

The following chart reflects approved FY 2021 FTE positions by function of government.

FY 2021 FTE Positions by Function of Government

Largest employers. The following table lists the ten largest state employers and their number of FTE positions.

AgencyFTE Positions
University of Kansas5,340.50
Kansas State University3,754.00
University of Kansas Medical Center3,333.90
Department for Children and Families2,545.90
Department of Transportation2,351.00
Wichita State University2,188.90
Judicial Branch1,868.00
Kansas State University – ESARP1,159.20
Department of Revenue1,078.70
Department of Health and Environment – Health1,058.50
Source: 2020 IBARS (Kansas Internet Budgeting and Reporting System) Approved

Steven Wu, Senior Fiscal Analyst

Dylan Dear, Managing Fiscal Analyst

Amy Deckard, Assistant Director for Fiscal Affairs