Republican leaders in the Minnesota House and Senate say public employee contracts will have to be part of a solution for the state’s projected $6.2 billion budget deficit.
With a labor-friendly Democrat in the governor’s office, GOP leaders say they are not pushing for the sweeping changes that Republicans have proposed in Wisconsin. But bills have been introduced here to reduce the state workforce, freeze wages and and trim benefits for public employees. House Majority Leader Matt Dean of Dellwood said Minnesota can’t escape the issue.
“Any solution in any state in the country is going to involve changes in how we deal with our labor contracts,” Dean said. “It’s just a fact of life.”
Dean and GOP Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch would not say if they supports a proposed constitutional amendment to block union membership and dues as a condition of employment in Minnesota.
Governor Dayton told MPR News on Friday that some of the Republican proposals put forward are “rash.” He said the Legislature should be careful about considering these issues.
“It underscores how the deliberations need to be very careful and very respectful.” Dayton said. “People whose lives that are going to be affected by actions that a Legislature takes and a governor takes deserve to be heard and their rights need to be respected.”
Dayton has been endorsed by several public employee unions. His budget plan would cut six percent of the state’s workforce, roughly 800 people.