FILE - Wisconsin State Capitol

The dome of the Wisconsin State Capitol in Madison, Wisconsin.

The people who work for the state of Wisconsin will see bigger paychecks next year. Some of them will see much bigger paychecks. 

Lawmakers who are crafting the state's new two-year budget agreed to a four percent raise for most state workers. 

It will be broken into two, two-percent increases. 

"We all value our state employees, our UW employees. And we appreciate the good work that they do," state Rep. Shannon Zimmerman, R-River Falls, said Tuesday. "To me it feels very appropriate, because of the prudent fiscal work that we've done in the past that has resulted in our strong economic position today, to [offer] these two percent raises."

Zimmerman said the raises will help the nearly 39,000 people who work for the University of Wisconsin system, including those who work at the UW campus in his hometown of River Falls. 

In all, the raises will cost taxpayers $83 million more in the next state budget. 

But not all lawmakers are happy with the raises. 

State Rep. Chris Taylor, D-Madison, wanted more. 

"State employees unfortunately, I think, have been used as political punching bags," Taylor told the legislature's budget writing panel. "They've been the victims of divide-and-conquer politics with very inflammatory rhetoric that somehow made them the villains."

She's not alone. State Sen. Jon Erpenbach, R-West Point, said state of Wisconsin workers for years have been shamed into not talking about their pay and benefits. 

"If you were a public employee, you didn't talk too much about it because you didn't want to get yelled at or you didn't want to have to defend why you get paid what you get paid or what your health care is," Erpenbach said. 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics says the average salary for all workers in Wisconsin is $47,350 a year

There are no readily available numbers for the average salary for state of Wisconsin workers. There are also no readily available numbers that show total compensation for state workers (pensions, healthcare coverage, sick days, overtime, etc...)

There are a number of searchable databases that show what each employee makes. 

While most state of Wisconsin workers will see a four percent raise over the next two years, prison guards in the state will see a 14 percent raise. 

Lawmakers also approved a plan to raise the starting wage for new prison guards from $16.65 an hour to $19 an hour.

Veteran prison guards would see a $2.35 an hour raise as well. And all prison guards would get bonuses after they spend a decade on the job. 

State Rep. Mark Born said the hope is to boost prison guard pay to attract new guards, and make veteran guards happy. 

"This is an important step toward addressing staffing shortages," Born said. "This is a major investment."

The raises for prison guards make up $35 million of the $83 million in raises in the new state budget. 

Staff Writer

An industry veteran with two decades of experience in media, Benjamin Yount reports on Illinois and Wisconsin statewide issues for The Center Square.