State workforce reduction bill clears second House committeeby Tim Pugmire, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — Legislation to reduce the state workforce by 15 percent in the next four years has cleared a second committee hurdle in the Minnesota House.
Members of the House State Government Finance Committee approved the measure Thursday by a vote of 12 to 8. The bill includes a hiring freeze and an early retirement incentive to help reach its goal.
Rep. Keith Downey, R-Edina, the bill's chief author, said organizational change is hard, but necessary.
"If this were easy, we'd do it in six months. But it's not," Downey said. "I'm giving the executive branch and the Legislature four full years to find a way to implement the improvements and the changes that do our absolute best to not compromise our level of service, to treat our people decently and to accomplish the real change, the sustainable change that we need as a state."
State employee unions strongly oppose the bill. Rep. Ryan Winkler, DFL-Golden Valley, tried unsuccessfully to amend the bill with a 15 percent pay reduction for legislators.
"State employees are not just bureaucrats sitting in office buildings in St. Paul. A huge percentage of these people are actually providing direct services: corrections, human services, the DNR, MnDOT," Winkler said.
The House Ways and Means Committee is the bill's last stop before a floor vote.