ST. PAUL - Tens of thousands of Minnesota state workers will get a raise after the House and Senate approved negotiated contracts.
Senators voted 56-10 Monday, March 26, to bump up pay for more than 30,000 workers by 2 percent this year and 2.5 percent next year. The House followed a few hours later with a 93-33 vote.
About half of workers are eligible for other increases, too, Sen. Jeremy Miller, R-Winona, said.
The raises will not increase taxes, Sen. Erik Simonson, D-Duluth, said because the added pay would come out of existing budgets.
Rep. Marion O'Neill, R-Maple Lake, agreed: "'I have assurance from all of the commissioners of all the state agencies that this does fit into their budgets."
O'Neill said the raises will cost $287 million.
Commissioner Myron Frans of Minnesota Management and Budget thanked senators for backing the raises, adding: "Every day their work has an impact on the lives of Minnesotans throughout the state."
Gov. Mark Dayton is expected to sign the bill, which he said gives workers "modest wage increases." His administration negotiated the wages.
Not everyone agreed with the contracts.
Sen. Michelle Benson, R-Ham Lake, said her complaint is that the contracts offer no flexibility for managers to provide higher pay in areas in big demand, such as information technology professionals.
Also, she said, "our troopers are backsliding compared to other law enforcement departments."
The 30,000 workers had to wait since last fall to see if they would get raises. A legislative committee last Oct. 5 rejected state employee union contacts
"I think about the hard-working construction workers not getting these type of increases," Rep. Steve Drazkowski, R-Mazeppa, said at the time. "The people of Minnesota paying for the government are not making these kind of increases."
Simonson said in October that the panel was micromanaging the issue. "We can afford this."
All six Republicans on the House-Senate committee voted against the contracts.
Unions have criticized Republican lawmakers for rejecting their contracts while accepting a 45 percent pay raise, although that was granted by a new commission voters established to set legislative pay.
The contracts apply to:
• American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees
• AFSCME, Unit 8 (corrections)
• AFSCME, Unit 225 (radio communication operators)
• Minnesota Association of Professional Employees
• Minnesota Government Engineers' Council
• Middle Management Association
• State Residential Schools Education Association
• Commissioner's Plan, including Medical Specialist Addendum
• Managerial Plan
• Minnesota Nurses Association
• MNsure Managerial Plan
• Office of Higher Education Unclassified Personnel Compensation Plan
• Minnesota State Personnel Plan for Administrators
• Inter Faculty Organization