Zellers says state employee raises are “overstepping the bounds”

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.

  • Dan

    No, no, no…They are paid well enough for now. Sitck to your guns…Another 13 million, where does that come from?

  • Chris

    2% sounds more like a cost of living adjustment than a “raise.” If you don’t want to pay your employees, then you’re going to get junk employees. I left the government so I didn’t have to deal with this bull anymore.

  • Mary

    More attempts at union busting. Some of these wonderfully hard working people have not had a raise in 5-7 YEARS!!! I know, I was one of them. However, special friends of the previous administration easily found positions and raises.

  • paul

    Of course he’s against it…that’s his job. Apparently the problem is not that “…many folks out there haven’t had a raise or haven’t had an increase in their paycheck” because that would be jobs creation and a healthy economy – which he does not seem to want. And let’s also clear this up: the 2% – is only for the last 6 months of the 2nd year of the contract.

    A billion for a stadium so only those who can afford it can see a sporting event, but no appreciation for his own state employees…

  • Joshua

    Hey Dan,

    Who is going to repair the broken down bridges when they haven’t had wage increases in seven years, but received higher health costs?

    What teacher is willing to work for peanuts teaching your kid to read?

    What Police Officer or Fireman is going to continue to protect or save your life when their work isn’t rewarded.

    What correction officer is going continue to worry about keeping the bad guys behind bars, when you want to keep giving them the shaft.

    On average state employees make less according on the basis of their education level, than those in the private sector. My son’s 5th grade teacher, after 23 years of service and a masters degree only brings home a gross salary of $60k. Loan officers at a bank with half the education make more than that.

    And if you think privatizing all of this stuff would work, then I dare you to look at what happened to a family who didn’t pay their fire protection fee in Tennessee. You get to watch your house burn down to the ground, along with your pets and anyone trapped inside.

    Imagine the crime of a community unable to afford to privately pay for police protection.

    And if you think privatization is cheaper, take a look at private vs pubic colleges. Private colleges cost on order of twice or more than their public counterparts, and the information is delivered in much the same way.

    Public employees are not the problem. The problem is politicians who want to give tax breaks to wealthy people, and not pay for them. So then we end up with accounting gimmicks like TPaw’s favorite thing, borrow money from the K-12’s to pay for tax breaks. HMM, seems to me that there is a pattern to the Republicans borrow and spend, which is why the nation has such a high level of debt. Say what you want about tax and spend democrats, at least they pay for the things they want, republicans continue to kick cans down the road, and they don’t have this independent voter fooled.

  • Mary

    Well put Joshua. This is a contract that was supposed to have been worked out last year. The Legislature wanted the state employees to shoulder the burden of a large increase in health care costs with a 0% pay increase. This seems to be a reasonable compromise. State employees are underpaid compared to their private sector counterparts and many have gone without a raise for years. While the economy is a long way from being strong, many companies are now giving their employees raises. People need to stop demonizing public employees. They work for the benefit of all of us.