Minnesota’s public employee unions have launched a television advertising campaign aimed at convincing Republican legislators to support a budget compromise that would avoid a government shutdown.
With no budget agreement in sight, state officials are expected to mail out layoff notices Thursday to 36,000 state workers. A shutdown will begin July 1st without a new budget.
Four unions — AFSCME Council 5, Minnesota Association of Professional Employees, Inter Faculty Organization and Middle Management Association — are backing the statewide ad, which takes DFL Gov. Mark Dayton’s side in the budget impasse. Union leaders support his proposed income tax increase on top earners.
Eliot Seide, executive director of AFSCME Council 5, said the legislators who promised to grow jobs and boost the economy are now facing the largest layoff in state history.
“I want you to imagine for a second that this was a private sector company, a private sector company in Minnesota that was putting 36,000 people out of work,” Seide said. “These same leaders in the Legislature would be on their knees begging that company to keep those people working.”
But Republicans predict the ad will have little impact on their ranks. Sen. Geoff Michel, R-Edina, said he’s convinced there’s no need for a shutdown.
“We can get this done,” Michel said. “We can do it on time. We can finish this in June. We’ve got enough revenue. We don’t need a tax increase, and I find it hard to even contemplate a shutdown. We should be spending much more of our time on the work on putting together a budget, and less of our time worrying about these July scenarios, because we should make sure they don’t happen.”