Legislative Session Brings Wins, Areas of Concern

Council 5 members from across Minnesota kept a constant green presence at the state Capitol this session. In just three days, members working around-the-clock defeated a union-busting measure that tried to turn us into Wisconsin.
Council 5 members from across Minnesota kept a constant green presence at the state Capitol this session. In just three days, members working around-the-clock defeated a union-busting measure that tried to turn us into Wisconsin.

The 2017 session made it apparent that now more than ever, workers must unite to elect a pro-worker governor and restore a pro-worker House in 2018. Our future as a labor movement, along with our wages and benefits, depend on it.

The GOP-led House and Senate went into special session to approve a two-year budget plus bonding. Gov. Mark Dayton signed off on the budget bills to avoid a shutdown.

Despite a budget surplus of $1.65 billion, Senate Republicans had proposed tax cuts of $900 million and the House $1.35 billion, which would have dug huge holes in the budget and reduced services for years to come.

House Speaker Daudt showed us what Republican leadership looks like -- real cuts that cause real pain for our families. The House and Senate put big businesses and the wealthy few ahead of regular Minnesotans. Their corporate property tax freeze will cost us more than $1 billion.

The GOP insisted there wasn’t enough funding to invest in health care, our schools or tax breaks for working families. They gave away millions to big tobacco, giant corporations and the estates of multi-millionaires.

Their estate tax exclusion will benefit only the 1,000 richest estates each year. Tobacco tax reductions will cost us $300 million over 10 years. They gave a $6.9 million tax break to premium cigars.

Thanks to Gov. Dayton – who acted as our goalie – along with our allies, our lobbyists and our members, who were both visible and vocal the entire session, the final budget was much less mean-spirited than what the GOP initially proposed.

Council 5 members pack the gallery to stand witness as the Senate votes down an anti-union measure.
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Our Wins

COLLECTIVE BARGAINING / PELRA

We removed the poison pill to preserve the Public Employment Labor Relations Act. Without that strong protection, employers could do just about anything they want to public workers.  

BUDGET

We beat back the GOP proposal to lay off 3,500 state employees. Gov. Dayton prevailed with funding for all state agencies, which pays for the work we do.

BONDING

  • $70 million to expand the Security Hospital in St. Peter.
  • $27 million to improve Sex Offender Treatment facilities in Moose Lake and St. Peter.
  • $19 million to construct a new intake unit at the Minnesota Correctional Facility in St. Cloud.
  • $7.5 million for a new Child and Adolescent Behavioral Health Services facility in Willmar.
  • $2.25 million for safety renovations at Anoka Regional Treatment Center.

SAFE STAFFING FUNDING TO HELP DHS HIRE MORE STAFF

  • $22 million for St. Peter Security Hospital.
  • $10 million for MSOCS group homes.
  • Funding to operate the new CABHS facility in Willmar.  

NO PRIVATE PRISONS

We greatly watered down language requiring DOC to reopen the private prison in Appleton. Some GOP lawmakers had tried to require the commissioner to buy Appleton before he could expand any other facility. Now the commissioner can’t expand bed capacity without first giving the Legislature an appraisal estimating the prison’s market value.

PAID PARENTAL LEAVE RATIFIED

Six weeks of Paid Parental Leave for state employees (not court employees) was ratified by the House and Senate. It went into effect despite Gov. Dayton’s veto of the “preemption” bill. Expect the GOP to sue.

STATE AID TO CITIES

Our coalition won a $15 million annual increase for three years of Local Government Aid. That pays for our parks, libraries, police and firefighters. It prevents city layoffs and holds down property taxes.

STATE AID TO COUNTIES

Our coalition won a $20 million annual increase for County Program Aid. That will help our larger counties shoulder the Medicare and Medicaid cuts coming from the Trump administration.

LOCAL CONTROL

Local control triumphed over corporate Interference: Gov. Dayton vetoed a Republican bill that would have stopped cities from requiring employers to offer paid sick time or a $15 minimum wage.

PENSIONS

Good news: No pension changes or hybrid plans. We were visible and vocal at the Pension Commission. That vigilance protected our retirement security.

NO SHUTDOWN

Unfinished Business

PENSIONS

MSRS reforms did not pass. We still need shared sacrifice to sustain our pensions as people are living longer.

CHILD PROTECTION

Child protection workers put their caseload concerns on the Legislature’s radar. We continue to push for funding to help counties hire, train and retain case workers, investigators and screeners.\

Concerns

TRANSPORTATION

Gov. Dayton signed the GOP transportation bill. It’s inadequate for roads, bridges and transit. It underfunds our maintenance, design and inspection work. With no new revenue, it robs $320 million from the General Fund.

HIGHER EDUCATION

Minnesota State will get an increase of $106 million for the next two years while the U of M will get $54 million. That’s not enough to offset tuition freezes suggested by the Legislature. Layoffs may result.