House Speaker Kurt Zellers, R-Maple Grove, is criticizing the proposed state employee contracts. Gov. Dayton and the state’s two largest public employee unions have agreed on new contracts that provide an across the board pay increase of 2 percent. The contracts also require employees to pay higher health insurance co-pays. Zellers appeared on conservative radio host Scott Hennen’s program, where he criticized the proposal.
“When you look at how many folks out there haven’t had a raise or haven’t had an increase in their paycheck or maybe took a cut in their paycheck, asking for a pay increase at this point in the economy, at this point where our nation in rebuilding, I think is overstepping the bounds,” Zellers said.
The legislative Subcommittee on Employee Relations met last week to discuss the contracts. The subcommittee has to act on the agreement within 30 days or the contracts will be enacted on a temporary basis. If the subcommittee, which is scheduled to meet again on August 23, rejects the contracts, they will not go into effect until the full Legislature votes on the contracts when it returns for the 2013 session. Zellers hinted that Republicans would not be inclined to support the contracts if they retain the majority.
“From a cost standpoint, we have a two year budget that we already negotiated, we’ve already planned out,” he said. “Adding this on top of that, is an unexpected expense for that next legislative body. We still think we’re going to be in the majority so you’re asking us to add on to that next budget cycle.”
An official with Minnesota Management and Budget says Zellers is incorrect when it comes to the cost of the contracts. He said the expected increases were already factored into the current state budget. He said agencies would have to cover any added costs within their existing budgets. MMB says it will cost the state $13 million more if the new contracts are approved.