FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) -- About 550 engineers in the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet have received raises averaging 20 percent in a plan to curb high turnover and costly contracts for private engineers.

The Lexington Herald-Leader reports that the pay increase took effect June 16 and will cost about $7.8 million a year.

The salary increase follows an order from Kentucky's 2014 General Assembly for the state to make the Transportation Cabinet salaries more competitive with similar jobs in surrounding states and private businesses.

Cabinet spokesman Chuck Wolfe says the money is expected to come from savings in personal-service contracts used to hire outside engineers.

Transportation Secretary Mike Hancock says among the 11 categories of engineers who received pay raises, the departure rate in 2014 was 33 percent, compared to 22 percent throughout state government.

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