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Labor Finds Governor’s Proposed Budget Falls Short

January 24, 2007

As President Bush was delivering his State of the Union speech last evening, reaction was coming in to Governor Pawlenty’s $34 billion budget proposal. Eliot Seide is with AFSCME Council 5, which represents 43,000 Minnesota workers. He worries that while it includes money set aside for a possible future wage increase, it falls short on investments in public services:

“Snowplows are parked. Parks are closed. Prisons are short-staffed due to chronic disinvestment.”

Seide says Minnesota is well-served by its public and private workforce, but maintaining it requires an investment and that isn’t a priority in the Governor’s budget proposal.

"Part of his theme was paying for performance and we want Minnesotans to know that they’re getting the best value in public service possible. They get the best, most productive public sector work force in the nation, and yet, we're the 13th leanest work force in the nation. We can’t prosper if we continue to cut public infrastructure and undervalue public employees.”

He claims the Governor’s plan also fails to provide aid to local communities, and would “micromanage” local governments by capping their property taxes and earmarking all funds for law enforcement. He adds safe communities also need public parks, libraries and after-school programs.

The Governor’s two-year budget increases spending by nine percent, and focuses on health care, tax relief and education. Any plan needs Legislative approval before it reaches his desk.

Jim Wishner/Eric Mack, Public News Service - MN