It's the busiest crime lab in the state but raises remain on hold for employees of the Department of Public Safety's lab even though pay increases were ordered five months ago.
Forensic science workers from the DPS crime lab packed the room where they expected to learn about a salary boost - the first in 16 years. Deputy Director Heston Silbert said they just don't have the money.
"I can't make the money appear that doesn't exist," he said.
In October, the panel that oversees DPS compensations ordered the raises, acting on a grievance filed by forensic scientist Davere Jackson.
And even with the suggested increase, it's still not competitive.
"They still will be lower paid than any other scientist in the state. But it's a raise," Dale Norris said.
No one disagrees that the salary issue means the DPS crime lab is losing talented workers to better-paying labs and overworking the staff left behind.
Silbert offered to lobby state lawmakers for raises but not for the upcoming budget. So that's more than another year out.
Five months have passed since the pay increases were ordered and again on Tuesday lab workers walked out of the merit council meeting with no resolution.
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