St. Louis Public Radio News
6:31 pm
Wed May 12, 2010

State workers say mileage cuts will harm children, elderly

St. Louis, MO – Social service workers rallied in downtown St. Louis on Wednesday protesting cuts to the mileage reimbursement rate for state employees.

The state cut the reimbursement rate from 42 to 37 cents because the state legislature didn't act on a petition to remove Harry Truman's birthday as a paid holiday.

Bradley Harmon is President of Local 6355, which represents about 7,000 state employees, including the Department of Social Services.

Harmon says cutting the rate, which is now 13 cents below the federal rate, will make it hard for service workers to do their jobs.

"There are going to be people who are faced with a situation," said Harmon where they are five days away from payday and they haven't gotten a real reimbursement check for their mileage in a long time .and they're going to be faced with a situation about what do I do about this kid who I need to go see."

Missouri's Budget Director Linda Leubbering says the state reduced the reimbursement rate because the General Assembly failed to address the Governor's request to remove Harry Truman's birthday as a paid holiday.

Still, Luebbering says 37 cents per mile is fair.

"We believe the 37 cent per mile reimbursement rate is sufficient to reimburse employees for the costs associated with those miles," says Leubbering. "So, we don't think it should be a burden for anybody, that that's adequate to cover the costs."

Luebbering says the cut will save the state about $1.5 million.

Bradley Harmon of Local 6355 says it's time for Missouri to consider raising revenue, instead of "continually balancing the budget on the backs of children and seniors."