A two percent across-the-board pay hike for state employees is one step closer to reality. The joint Subcommittee on Employee Relations is recommending the Legislature approve state contracts for thousands of state employees. The plan would give a two percent raise to seven separate groups of workers, including AFSCME Council 5, the Minnesota Association of Professional Employees, middle managers and corrections officers.
Supporters of the plan, including Sen. Jim Metzen, DFL-South St. Paul, defend the pay hikes. They say employees haven’t gotten a raise in three and a half years.
“This is a modest increase of two percent,” Metzen said. “These people deserve this modest increase.”
The committee voted six to three in favor of the contracts. All of the Democrats on the committee voted for the contracts. All of the Republicans present voted against it. Democrats, who won control of the Legislature in November, are expected to ratify the contracts this year.
That’s a dramatic difference from five months ago when Republicans controlled the committee and voted to recommend the Legislature reject the contracts.
Republicans on the committee complained that the pay hikes were too large and too broad especially since the state if facing a $1.1 billion projected budget deficit.
“We want increases but the way to get the pay increases for the public employees is to get the state back on sound fiscal ground and make sure these economies are solid before we start committing to multiple billions of dollars over the next many years with these contracts” Sen. Roger Chamberlain, R-Lino Lakes, said.
The employee compensation package has several more committee stops before the full Legislature approves them. The wage increase covers the current two-year budget cycle and would be retroactive to January 2nd of this year.