Public employee contracts face tough reviewby Tom Scheck, Minnesota Public Radio
ST. PAUL, Minn. — A legislative subcommittee is holding a hearing Thursday morning to discuss the recently negotiated state employee contracts.
Minnesota its two publi employee unions agreed on a contract that would increase pay for most workers by 2 percent and also increase health care co-pays.
Several Republicans in the Legislature have criticized the deal, saying it's out of line with what private employers are offering their workers.
Gov. Dayton is defending the contracts, saying nearly 20,000 state employees lost $68 million because of last year's state government shutdown.
"They're not going to get most of that back," he said, adding also that wages were frozen under the last contract.
Republican Rep. Steve Drazkowski of Mazeppa says the committee is expected to heavily scrutinize the agreements in light of the slow economy.
"When you got 175,000 Minnesotans without a job and you've got private sector companies that are struggling to keep their businesses alive and private sector employees that are struggling to keep their jobs, that's a difficult proposition for public sector folks to say 'We demand more,'" he said.
The contracts will take effect if the subcommittee accepts the language. The full Legislature would have to vote on the proposal if the panel rejects them. It isn't clear whether the committee will take any action at today's hearing.
Drazkowski says it's unlikely that the committee will vote on the contracts at today's hearing.