Government union members rally as Pawlenty touts layoffs


February 17 – Members of AFSCME Council 5 plan to rally at the Capitol today in support of a state government budget solution that won’t mean the kind of painful layoffs Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s supplemental budget plan proposes for state and local government workers. 

The union, which represents city, school, county, state and some private sector workers, says its top priority is a budget solution that includes raising revenue by taxing the wealthy and corporations.

That approach was explicitly ruled out in Pawlenty’s budget proposal, which actually seeks to cut corporate tax rates, while reducing state aid to cities and counties by $250 million,  cutting $181 million from state agencies, and cutting $47 million from higher educaiton to help balance a $1.2 billion deficit in the budget cycle that ends next June.

Both those cuts would likely lead to layoffs of government employees across the state, a probability Pawlenty’s budget commissioner Tom Hanson acknowledged during legislative testimony on Tuesday.

The union hopes to pack 1,100 members into the Capitol Rotunda at 12:30 p.m. today. The rally is one part of the group’s Day On The Hill, which concludes with a reception at the Crowne Plaza Riverfront in St. Paul.