Yesterday was a long awaited day for public employees in Minnesota. Over a year ago diligent negotiations between the state of Minnesota and its public employee unions resulted is a labor agreement between the state and its employees. Yesterday, both the Minnesota Senate and the House approved those contracts sending them to the Governor's desk. Governor Dayton has long asked for that legislative approval.
After a year of waiting, yesterday’s action brought a bit of pleasant surprise to all of us who have had some anxiety about securing this final Legislative approval free of the other complexities of the legislature process. Yesterday was a very good day.
While the MMA Contract was already "in effect", legislative approval was needed to continue the MMA Contract beyond June 30, 2018 and to pass the other union contracts. While we don't believe this will change any of the current timing for implementation of MMA's Contract, it guarantees the protections and changes of the Contract through June 30, 2019.
Now one other major public employee matter remains on the legislative table - a major pension reform bill (SF 2620 / HF 3053). We are guardedly optimistic but need the help of state employees, retirees, our neighbors, and all Minnesotan’s who are concerned about the financial security and stability of Minnesota’s state public pension system.
The good pension news is that the ground breaking reform bill has been unanimously approved and recommended to the legislature by a unanimous bipartisan vote of the Minnesota Legislative Pension Commission chaired by Senator Julie Rosen (Vernon Center - Republican ) and Representative Tim O’Driscoll (Sartell- Republican) and strongly supported by Governor Dayton ( Democrat).
To add to this good news, yesterday the Senate also passed Senator Rosen’s Pension Reform bill. However, we have much work to do in the House and we need to vigorously let all House members know how important it is that they pass Rep. O’Driscoll Pension bill as soon as possible.
This reform package will not only help secure the future of our state’s public employee pensions, an accomplishment vital to both retirees and present state employees, but also significantly help maintain Minnesota’s admirable credit rating vital to keeping in the borrowing costs down protecting taxpayers from future costs in years to come. This is an important bill for taxpayers. Its passage will be a far sighted measure, good not only for today but for decades to come. The women and men who have crafted it should be congratulated for being so forward thinking.
However, its ultimate passage is not a certainty. We must all rally to urge our legislators, Democrats and Republicans to come together and pass this bill as soon as possible. The pension bill is too important a matter to be allowed to be at the risk of becoming tied up in the end of legislative session negotiations that in their difficulty can victimize other important matters of even when they have broad support.
The legislature will adjourn on May 21. Over the next few weeks, all of us should be reaching out to our respective members urging them to seize this moment and pass this important pension reform bill.
Yesterday’s passage of the state contracts and the potential passage of this historic pension reform bill makes the 2018 legislative session of great importance. The time is now for all of us to act. Please contact your legislators and thank them for passing the contracts and urge them not to let this moment go by without passing the pension reform bill. Taxpayers and state employees need this bill; Minnesota needs this bill. The future of our state will only be made better if it is on the list of accomplishments of this legislative session.
You can find your district representatives HERE.