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Workers to Weigh in on State Budget Shortfall

March 11, 2009

St. Paul, MN – State policymakers will get some financial advice today. About a thousand members of Minnesota's largest public employees' union will be at the Capitol to rally and talk with lawmakers about the state's budget deficit. Governor Tim Pawlenty's plan for dealing with the budget gap includes spending cuts, a hiring and wage freeze, and lower business taxes.

Eliot Seide, executive director of AFSCME-Minnesota Council 5, says that approach would lead to thousands of job losses.

"We have a better idea. Instead of piling on layoffs and cutting the services that people need in this economic recession, the Governor should raise revenue from those who make over a quarter-million dollars a year."

He says "fair taxes" will help the state survive the recession, while the Governor says the best way to get the state back on track is through less spending and more business incentives.

Seide says Minnesotans get a bigger bang for the buck when the state invests in public services people need.

"Every time we grow a job, invest in the public service, we produce, for every dollar, a dollar-and-a-half of investment in the economy. Every time we produce a tax cut, we don't even produce a dollar's worth."

He says government can use some belt-tightening, but the burden shouldn't fall on public workers or rely on reductions in critical government functions. Latest estimates put the state's two-year deficit at $4.6 billion.

AFSCME-Minnesota Council 5 represents 43,000 Minnesota public and nonprofit workers.

Jim Wishner, Public News Service - MN