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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Glenn Gruenhagen (R)

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Legislative Update from Rep. Glenn Gruenhagen

Friday, May 01, 2020

Dear Neighbors,

This week, the Minnesota House of Representatives voted once again to end Governor Walz’s peacetime emergency and to restore the legislature’s constitutional role as a coequal branch of government. This is necessary so the legislature can work with the governor on future actions to fight COVID-19 and let businesses safely reopen their doors so people can get back to work.

I voted “yes” in support of the resolution as did every House Republican. Sadly, yet again, the vote failed due to Democrats’ unanimous opposition.

It is clear that Democrats are fine sitting on their hands while Republicans are rolling up their sleeves to help get our economy moving again — until that changes, and the House Democrat majority changes their minds, the reality is the governor's emergency powers will remain in place.

I remain in constant contact with employees, employers, agencies, and the governor's office making real efforts to help Minnesota businesses safely reopen their doors while protecting the most vulnerable.

Living Within Our Means

The COVID-19 outbreak has had a negative impact on the state’s fiscal outlook. Because of this, it is important that lawmakers view budgetary decisions through this new reality.

To that end, Minnesota is negotiating union contracts that need to be approved by the legislature from last year for unionized state employees.

These contracts were negotiated and approved by the state and the unions at a time when Minnesota had a billion-dollar budget surplus, unemployment was near record lows, and no one had ever even heard of COVID-19.

Democrats and unions have insisted the state approve these contracts that will cost taxpayers more than $1 billion by the end of 2023—making Minnesota’s looming budget crisis significantly worse.

Nine of these contracts went into interim effect last year as a result of no action being taken by the Legislative Coordinating Commission Subcommittee on Employee Relations (SER). Failure to pass a bill ratifying the contracts this year would revert bargaining units back to their previous contract — effectively voiding the contracts currently in interim effect. 

Minnesota Management and Budget estimates that the increased costs of all collective bargaining agreements and plans will be 4.8% in this biennium and 8.17% in the next biennium. These costs would be on going. 

At a time when Minnesotans are being laid off, furloughed, and taking pay cuts, and businesses are struggling just to make it through the next few weeks, across the board pay hikes would be inappropriate for state workers. I am opposed to approving these contracts.

The state and unions should go back to the negotiating table and ensure that state contracts reflect the budgetary and economic reality. There are many good state employees, but we need to use fiscal restraint.

Have a great day,

Glenn

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