Tuesday, February 15, 2011

State Employees Are Doing the Public's Work

The Sunday Star Tribune story on public employee compensation lacked balance, in my opinion. There were a few points made to counter the overwhelmingly anti-union and anti-state-worker voices in the text, but most of them were at the end of the story.

That's why I was glad to see today's letters to the editor, which included two thoughtful rejoinders. The second letter, in particular, called out former State Auditor Pat Anderson for her derogatory description of state employees as "careerists." What Anderson said, in reference to the use of pension vs. 401K retirement plans was: "If we want to attract good people to government, who aren't careerist, you need a system that works."

Susan Barrett of St. Paul wrote:

My brother is a long-term private-sector employee, and I am a long-term public employee. We have both moved up in our respective jobs in terms of salary and position. In former State Auditor Pat Anderson's world, he is successful, while I am a risk-averse careerist. She gives no credit to experience garnered during a long career.

Make no mistake: Government knowledge is business knowledge, and everyone would agree that business knowledge often sets one apart in the private sector.

It is very telling that the vast majority of public-sector employees make less than their private-sector counterparts. This is totally at odds with the Republican rhetoric.

Finally, I contribute more than the state does to my pension plan. I have not had a raise for four years, while the out-of-pocket cost of benefits has increased annually. This is appropriate given our state's fiscal situation. All I ask is a factual discussion and an appreciation that some of us are working at jobs we like for a mission that matters.
Tell it, Susan! Remember, Minnesota is in the bottom 10 among states when it comes to state employees per capita, while still maintaining our parks, roads, lakes, health, and everything else we take for granted.

We used to call it the Minnesota Miracle. But I guess it was really just a bunch of careerists trying to stick it to the taxpayer.

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