Cutting state workforce will not improve government efficiency

A bill introduced to the Legislature this week would require Minnesota to reduce its state employee workforce by 15 percent by 2015, reducing the state’s workforce by 5,000 jobs. State Sen. Sandy Pappas, DFL-St. Paul, said the legislation would be disastrous for Minnesota’s economy.

“Just a week after unveiling a plan to give tax breaks to out of state corporations, the Republicans propose to add thousands of middle-class Minnesotans to the unemployment rolls,” said Sen. Pappas. “I agree that we should find ways to streamline government services; however, cutting jobs and leaving important government functions vacant will not improve efficiency.”

According to the Census Bureau, Minnesota has the 10th leanest state workforce in the country with approximately 71 state workers per 10,000 citizens. The proposed legislation not only hurts working families, it has adverse effects on the private sector as well. A recent study by the Economic Policy Institute found that for every 100 public sector jobs cut, 30 jobs are lost in the private sector – applying that formula to this legislation would show 1,530 private sector jobs lost in addition to the over 5,000 public jobs that would be lost under this legislation.

The bill allows for the use of early retirement, layoffs, hiring or wage freezes and restructuring pension programs to defined contribution plans to achieve this workforce reduction. It directs Minnesota Management and Budget (MMB) to develop an early retirement program and pension reform. Early retirement incentives would be paid out of the pension fund. The bill also instates a hiring freeze on agencies to prevent them from filling positions by those taking advantage of early retirement, unless filling the specific position is mandated in law.

“Requiring government positions to go unfilled will result in work not getting done and the needs of the public not being met,” said Sen. Pappas. “While I generally support the use of early retirement incentives, it’s important to remember that they are not free and cost the state money. Switching from a defined benefit to defined contribution retirement system would cost the state billions and make our state’s retirement system less efficient.”

For more information, Sen. Pappas may be contacted at 651-296-1802, sen.sandy.pappas@senate.mn, or 143 State Office Building, St. Paul, MN 55155.

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Senator Sandy Pappas
Sandy Pappas represents District 65, which includes portions of Saint Paul in Ramsey County in the Twin Cities metropolitan area.

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