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Pawlenty’s Furlough Plan & Budget Cuts Will Cost Jobs, Services.

Michael Fisette, of Cottage Grove, thinks Gov. Tim Pawlenty is trying to take the easy way out of Minnesota’s historic budget and hurting state workers and the folks they serve in the process.

In a letter in today’s South Washington County Tribune, Michael takes on Governor Pawlenty’s budget proposals and his recent attempt to force unpaid furloughs on state workers, saying they will eliminate jobs and affect the services many Minnesotans depend on.

Instead of trying to fix the budget deficit with cuts, cuts, more cuts, and furloughs, Michael suggests looking at ways to protect vital services by reducing unnecessary expenses and phasing out outsourced and contractual positions which are more expensive to maintain..

Minnesota is facing an historic budget crisis. We must look for smart solutions to our problems. It is easy for Gov. Tim Pawlenty to say cutting government jobs is the way out of this. It is important to look at what cutting jobs means. It means fewer services for taxpayers. If state workers are furloughed, there will be fewer health inspectors, employment and financial assistance counselors, parole officers, DNR officers, park attendants and so many other services would need to be reduced because of under staffing.

In my job we support the issuance of all State and Federal Aid to Minnesota’s underprivileged, elderly and children, including day care. We also support the interfaces between state aid computer systems and Work Force One, child support, Social Security and MinnesotaCare, which is necessary for those agencies to function properly.

Let’s look at other ways to protect vital services during the tough times ahead by reducing unnecessary expenses, outsourced and contractual positions, which actually cost the state’s taxpayers over twice as much in 2008 as the salaries and benefits of all state employees.

Next, why do the governor and legislators get free medical care and a full retirement package after serving just one term? How many millions do we pay a year for retired governors and legislators? Why aren’t they being furloughed?

Michael Fisette
Cottage Grove

Invest in Minnesota, a coalition of Minnesota’s faith community, labor, and nonprofit organizations asked several elder care workers to talk about how Gov. Pawlenty’s budget proposals will affect–and are already affecting–the care they’re able to provide.

Watch the video below:

According to MNCN, Under Pawlenty’s plan, 4,300 Minnesotans who are disabled or elderly would not longer be eligible for home- and community-based waiver services, which allow them access home-based health care services instead of living in the more expensive and confining institutional settings. This includes the 1,100 Minnesota seniors who would be cut off form Medical Assistance.

WCCO recently reality checked the Governor’s furlough plan:

Here’s what you NEED TO KNOW.

Minnesota’s 30,000 public employees include janitors and park workers to lab technicians and psychologists.

On average, members of the two largest unions, the American Federation of State County and Municipal Workers (AFSCME) and the Minnesota Association of Professional Employees (MAPE) earn $47,500.

Giving up 24 days without pay amounts to a pay cut of about 10 percent.


Despite calls for public sacrifice, nobody appears to be demanding a pay cut or unpaid furlough from Minnesota’s highest ranking state workers. That includes the legislature, the governor, any constitutional officer or department head.

That’s a reality check.

In reality, ensuring our long-term economic prosperity requires a sense of shared sacrifice and shared responsibility. It’s time for the wealthy to start paying their fair share.

Look up your state legislators. Urge them to support a fair tax structure in Minnesota, not Gov. Pawlenty’s plans to cut important basic services like health care and assistance to the elderly.

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