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Dayton's Response

Dayton's Response

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Published by James Ragsdale

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Published by: James Ragsdale on Aug 29, 2012
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Office of Governor Mark Dayton
130 State Capitol • 75 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard • Saint Paul, MN 55155
August 29, 2012
Senator Mike Parry
Legislative Subcommittee on Employee RelationsRoom 309, State Capitol Building
75 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd.
St. Paul, Minnesota 55155
Representative Steve Drazkowski
Vice Chair
Legislative Subcommittee on Employee RelationsRoom 401, State Office Building
100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd.
St. Paul, Minnesota 55155
Dear Senator Parry and Representative Drazkowski:
My office received your letter, dated yesterday, at 11:30 yesterday morning. It is hard for
me to take seriously your request in that letter to meet with me prior to your Subcommittee's
meeting tomorrow morning at 8:30, which would effectively require us to meet today. YourSubcommittee's meeting tomorrow was scheduled last week. You could have given me more
than a day's notice, if you truly wanted to meet with me.
I am not interested in participating in any political theatrics. The legislature hasadjourned until next January, barring another emergency situation. Next year's five-month
session will provide ample opportunities to discuss any proposed legislative changes, prior to our
beginning negotiations over the next two-year contract.
The contract under review is the first which my administration has negotiated. It is a
responsible agreement and one that is well within the financial parameters established in the four,two-year contracts negotiated by the previous Republican administration, all of which wereapproved by the legislature. Most of the other issues you raise are embedded in the contracts,which we inherited from the previous administration and previous legislatures.We can find no evidence that either of you publicly criticized the previous Governor for
his four agreements. We can find no record that either of you offered amendments on the Houseor Senate floors to change the laws, rules, or procedures, which you now question. So, why is it
that what was acceptable during the eight years of the Pawlenty administration, is now
unacceptable under mine?
You criticize us for agreeing to a 2% across-the-board increase in members' salaries forthe last six months of the two-year contract. State employees have received no salary increases
for the past 3&1/2 years. Moreover, 19,000 of them lost wages totaling $65 million during lastyear's shutdown. This 2% raise for six months does not begin to make up their lost incomes.
Voice: (651) 201-3400 or (800) 657-3717
ax: (651) 797-1850
N Relay (800) 627-3529
Website: http:/ /governor.state.mn.us
n Equal Opportunity Employer
Printed on recycled paper containing
post consumer material and state government printed
Senator Mike Parry
Representative Steve Drazkowski
August 29, 2012
Page 2
During the contract years 2006 — 2009, before the state's finances plummeted, Governor
Pawlenty's administration agreed to annual, across-the-board wage increases of 2% in 2006, an
additional 2% for 2007, 3.5% for 2008, and an additional 3.5% in 2009. The legislature approved
all four increases by overwhelming bi-partisan margins.Furthermore, as with previous contracts, this one would not cost Minnesota taxpayers one
additional dollar. In July 2011, the legislature set state agencies' budgets for the two years of thiscontract, and those budgets would not change, if this agreement were approved. The agencies
would be required to pay for the six months of salary increases from within their existing budgets.In this new contract, we negotiated the first increase in state employees' payments for
their health care since 2008. They would pay almost $8 million more this year and every year
thereafter. If, however, your Subcommittee rejects the contracts, those savings to the state will be
Your criticism of us for not revising the state's system of step increases again begs the
question: where were you during the previous eight years? I am told by MMB that steps wereenacted into state law by the legislature in the 1960s. When collective bargaining began in 1973,that system was incorporated into state contracts. In the following 39 years of collectivebargaining, steps have been withheld only once, in FY 2009. However, they were restored by the
previous administration with the concurrence of the legislature for FY 2010, the year leading into
this contract. Again, where were the legislative proposals for "reform" (your word) during that
I am told that the rationale for steps, which have now been in existence for nearly 50years under Republican, Independent, and Democratic governors and legislatures, was that everyyear new employees work, they gain knowledge and experience which make them more valuableto the organization. Step increases are meant to reflect this increase in employee value.However, when employees reach the top of the salary range for their jobs, their step increases
stop. Thus, contrary to some accusations, the step system does not reward long-term seniority. It
actually applies to new employees in their first few years of employment.Regarding "pay for performance," my Chief of Staff, Ms. Tina Smith, is responsible forre-establishing such a system within state government, something that was largely ignored by theprevious administration (again without any evidence of legislative criticism).
We have begun with a performance award system. The awards are:
Tied to the performance of employees — not a broad payout to most or allemployees.
Linked to our efforts to improve management for outcomes and results, andencouraging managers to provide better, more immediate feedback to employees.
Paid for out of agencies' existing budgets.
For all employees except AFSCME, whose previously negotiated contractexpressly precludes performance awards for their members.

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