Sen. Gazelka to Gov. Walz: Asking 650,000 jobless Minnesotans to pay for state employee raises is adding insult to injury

(ST. PAUL, MN) – As Governor Walz and Commissioner Frans contemplate their decision on how to interpret the ratification of state employee union contracts this week, Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka offered some advice on behalf of the Minnesota Senate:

“There is no room for a reasonable person to ‘interpret’ the recent action of the Minnesota Senate when it comes to the state employee contracts. The plain language in the bill was clear: ratify the first year of the contract but forgo the 2.5% raise for the second year. The Walz administration would look very tone deaf if they interpreted this action as full ratification of the contract, even if they invent a legal framework to justify their decision. It’s impossible to justify asking the 650,000 Minnesotans who lost their jobs through no fault of their own to help shoulder the burden of the extra costs of this contract.

In fact, there are 12 unemployed Minnesotans for every state employee who would receive a raise this July. Besides insulting jobless Minnesotans, the looming budget deficit in 2021 is another strong reason to call off the legal analysis and instead bring the parties back to the bargaining table to ask everyone, including state employees, to share in the sacrifice necessary to get us through this crisis.

The budget impact of extending raises in the proposed contract is $150 million for FY 21 and an additional $360 million for FY 22/23. If we wait until 2021 to deal with this challenge, hundreds of state employees will lose their jobs due to the budget deficit. That’s not a good result for them or the taxpayers.”