Speaking on the House Floor
Here is an update from the Capitol.
The safety of our kids is paramount, and House Republicans have introduced a bill package that will help keep our students and schools safe. Our multifaceted approach will provide schools with approximately $50 million in funding—double what the governor has proposed, giving school districts the flexibility to make changes that best meet their needs. That can mean hiring more student counselors, partnering with local law enforcement for a school resource officer or making building security upgrades like limited entryways or emergency communication systems.
Some highlights in our plan include:
- School resource officers, student support personnel, and other school security programs funded through increased Safe Schools revenue, including a floor level of funding for small schools
- School building security upgrades, and expanded use of Long-Term Facility Maintenance revenue for security projects, including emergency communications systems
- School-linked mental health programming to ensure better outcomes for all kids
- Physical security audit grants to provide state assistance to review facility security and crisis management policies
- Suicide prevention training for teachers to help educators learn how to engage and assist students experiencing mental distress
- School-based threat assessment teams established to assess, intervene, and report threats facing students, teachers, and staff
I think this is a smart, comprehensive approach that will have a meaningful impact on student and school safety.
Bringing More Accountability to State Government
Two bills I’m authoring to bring more accountability to state government employee contracts are moving through the committee process in the House.
House File 3518 would replace step increases (98% of those eligible receive an annual step increase for satisfactory performance) and across the board cost of living increases for ALL employees with raises tied to employee performance. Reviews would fall into three categories for employees—those who exceed expectations, those who meet expectations and those who do not meet expectations. As it is in current contracts, those who were found to not be meeting expectations would not receive a pay increase.
I think this is a commonsense change that brings the public sector closer to the private sector and the Minnesota Judicial Branch, and it will reward highly productive state employees. Also, the unions would still be negotiating these pay increases, but there would be greater accountability in how raises are being handed out.
Another bill I am carrying to bring more accountability to state government employee contracts is House File 3674. After the difficulty of getting some basic numbers from Minnesota Management and Budget—like how union contracts would fit within already approved agency budgets, my bill would require certain information on collective bargaining agreements be submitted to the Subcommittee on Employee Relations before contracts are voted on.
Information includes a breakdown of costs under the agreement, how costs would fit into the budget of each executive agency, and contingency plans should those contracts end up costing agencies more than they were allotted by the Legislature and governor.
This is how any basic business would operate, understanding how pay raises would affect their expenditures and completing forward-looking budgets.
State employee costs are one of the biggest drivers of state government spending, comprising nearly $10 billion of the $46 billion dollar budget, and I think these are needed reforms that will bring more accountability to state government.
As always, if you need assistance on an issue pertaining to state government or have concerns or ideas about legislation, my office is available to you. You can e-mail at Rep.Marion.ONeill@House.MN or call my office at 651-296-5063. You can also write a letter to me. My office address at the Capitol is 549 State Office Building, 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, St. Paul, MN 55155.