In House says state employee count should be 36,211, Pioneer Press political reporter Rachel Stassen-Berger writes about an issue that we would imagine that public employee unions might find of interest:
The Minnesota House plans to unveil a budget that would limit Minnesota to 36, 211 state employees and not one more.
“The total number of full-time equivalent employees employed in all executive branch agencies may not exceed 36,211. The commissioner of management and budget may forbid an executive agency from hiring a new employee or from filling a vacancy as the commissioner determines is necessary to ensure compliance with this section,” the measure, to be heard on Wednesday, says.
The state’s full-time equivalent numbers have varied considerably over the years. The numbers were actually lowest under Gov. Mark Dayton but not because he wanted them that way. During his first term, state government shut down when Dayton and Republican lawmakers failed to agree on a budget.
Stassen-Berger illustrates the item with a chart that demonstrates that the figure would drop the number of employees to slightly lower that those on staff during former Governor Tim Pawlenty's final year in office--check it out in her article.
Surely, those who represent employees might want to put in a few words about the pending job cuts, but the list of testifiers distributed by the committee would appear to indicate that no union representative wanted to talk about this:
MAPE met deadline
Murray Cody, communications coordinator for the Minnesota Association of Professional Employees (MAPE), provided Bluestem Prairie with the image, along with a kind note:
. . .Since MAPE represents more than 13,000 professional state employees, we were very interested in testifying against this bill at this morning’s (Wednesday’s) hearing in front of a House committee.
MAPE’s public affairs and communications director, Richard Kolodziejski, received an email citing the deadline to request to testify. He responded with a request to testify – more than one hour before the deadline. You can see for yourself, since I am forwarding to you (below) the email exchange with MAPE’s request to testify.
Here's Kolodziejski's request in his reply (clearly sent at 3:40:05 PM CDT) to the original notice from the committee
Begin forwarded message:
From: Richard Kolodziejski <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: April 14, 2015 at 3:40:05 PM CDT
To: Adam Seidel <Adam.Seidel@house.mn>
Subject: Re: Testimony for State Government Finance Omnibus Bill Posted
I would like to testify on the impact to state professional employees.
Public Affairs and Communications Director
MInnesota Association of Professional Employees
Sent from my iPhone
On Apr 14, 2015, at 9:49 AM, Adam Seidel <Adam.Seidel@house.mn> wrote:
The State Government Finance Omnibus Bill was posted on the committee webpage, as well as Wednesday's hearing page, this morning. The DE6 amendment and a detailed budget spreadsheet are attached to this email as well.
We will begin hearing the bill Wednesday morning, and all amendments will be due at this time.
If you would like to testify to the bill, please email me the name of your testifiers and the subject of the testimony within the bill before 5 pm today. Those who request a spot on the agenda to testify will receive more time to speak than those who do not as a result of scheduling uncertainties.
State Government Finance
Veterans Affairs Division. . .
Obviously, MAPE's representative was left off. Now, we understand that mistakes can happen, but the committee process allows for them to be corrected, and for MAPE's representative to receive just as much time as the others who followed the guidelines and signed up to testify.
Anderson not up for correcting an error
Sadly, when committee minority lead, Rep. Michael Nelson (DFL-Minneapolis), asked about groups that had requested to testify but were not on the list, Committee Chair Sarah Anderson (R-Plymouth) wasn't up for giving anyone left off the list the same time as those whose emailed requested were acknowledged.
Here's the YouTube of the moment on Wednesday morning:
Nelson: I was also approached by a couple of groups that put requests in to be on the agenda to testify and they were told this was already printed and therefore they couldn't be added, get their names on the list.
Now if I remember right reading the email that people on the list would get more time to testify, that the people who are not on the list would get less time to testify. So is that how you intend on running it still, or--
Anderson: What we're going to do, Representative Nelson, is that those folks who were able to get on the list at the 5 p.m. deadline, they are on the list so that it's available to the public and post it online, and so they will be able to go first and hear their testimony, and then after that, I'll do like I've done for every other other bill, I'll say is there any one else wishing to testify-- and I announced that earlier, I don't know if you heard that-- so if there's anybody else who wants to testify at that point they'll be able to testify.
But just so you know: at the end of the day we will be voting on this bill on Thursday morning by our deadline. We have to be out of our committee room by 10:00 a.m. Thursday morning and so amendments, all that good stuff, that will be done so we can vote on the final product at 10:00 a.m.
So there you have it: deadlines are very important for Anderson when it comes to ramming a bill through, but not so important when it comes those groups who make the deadline for testifying.
According to Cody, MAPE will be allowed to testify tonight--along with others who didn't sign up. Or who did, maybe. It's hard for us to know, since we don't have access to the email account and aren't much interested in hacking.
What's more--the evening hearing will not be televised.
Not that there's an anti-public employee or anti-union sentiment fueling this omission. Perish the thought.
Screengrab: House Government Operations Finance Chair Sarah Anderson during the exchange with Nelson. She really didn't say "na--na--na--what?" to MAPE except in a very #KeepItCivilMN sort of way.
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