ST. PAUL, Minn. — State employees in Minnesota will see promised pay raises after the state's budget agency ruled Wednesday that legislators don't have the authority to modify them.
The ruling from Minnesota Management and Budget came after the Senate Republican majority voted to postpone a 2.5% pay raise that was due in July. Republicans argued that the contracts should be renegotiated because the state faces huge revenue losses due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Commissioner Myron Frans said a legal review determined that the Legislature can't modify the agreements, which the Democratic-controlled House ratified as is. By voting to OK the contracts without raises, his agency determined, the Senate effectively approved them.
GOP Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, of East Gull Lake, called it a "cavalier decision" by Democratic Gov. Tim Walz "against the clear direction from the Senate."
Republican House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt, of Crown, said giving the pay raises when nearly 700,000 Minnesotans are unemployed is "offensive and deeply irresponsible."
AFSCME Council 5, the state's largest public employee union, thanked Walz for what it called a "strong commitment to protect collective bargaining rights and the law."
Legislators are expected to return in June for a special session to tackle issues left unresolved when the regular session ended Monday. Gazelka suggested that the ruling could complicate those talks.