Minn. union official cries 'Walker' after GOP pension proposalST. PAUL -- Minnesota public employees would pay more toward their pensions in a bill unions say is like one in Wisconsin that drew national attention.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota public employees would pay more toward their pensions in a bill unions say is like one in Wisconsin that drew national attention.
Sens. Gretchen Hoffman, R-Vergas, and Mike Parry, R-Waseca, introduced their bill Monday as a way to help plug a $5 billion state budget deficit by reducing state expenses.
“This will help the funds stay viable,” Hoffman said. “The track they are on is not viable.”
Without the bill, Hoffman added, the state may not be able to keep pension plans fully funded.
“We want our government employees to be able to count on their pensions when they retire,” she said.
The bill would save the state $50 million in the next two-year budget.
Opponents compared the bill to a controversial Wisconsin action.
“What we have here is Scott Walker’s vision brought to Minnesota,” public union leader Eliot Seide said, referring to Wisconsin’s governor, who has created a firestorm among unions for his efforts to remove power from them.
Teachers and other public workers already fund 5 percent to 9 percent of their pensions, Seide said.
Republicans say that requiring workers to pay 3 percentage points more to their pensions is better than the alternatives.
“Do we like it?” Sen. Dave Thompson, R-Lakeville, asked. “I don’t think we like it any more than Sen. Hoffman likes laying people off or cutting their wages” in her business.
Gov. Mark Dayton would not say he would veto the bill, but made it clear that he opposes the idea. He said the Minnesota GOP proposal would go beyond what happened in Wisconsin.