With the stroke of his pen, Gov. Mark Dayton signed the final bill of his administration on May 31, reinforcing the 2018 legislative session as one in support of public servants. The Pension Reform Bill eliminated $3.4 billion of the state’s unfunded liabilities, or future debt, and put the plans on a path to fully fund pensions within 30 years.
Pension reform passed both the Minnesota House and Senate with overwhelming support. The bill benefits 511,000 Minnesotans who dedicate their lives to serving others. By signing the bill, Dayton ensured that public servants such as teachers, firefighters, police officers, snowplow drivers, and veterans home employees can retire with peace of mind.
The meaningful reforms enacted in the bill also bolster Minnesota’s reputation for sound fiscal management, and address concerns that our future debt would continue to grow and eventually bust the state’s budget – as we have seen in other states.
In addition to pension reform, this legislative session also saw the approval of employee contracts for state workers. The compensation and benefits provided in these contracts are not only fair, they are vital for our recruitment and retention efforts. It was inspiring to see bipartisan support for passing these contracts.
Employees are our most significant asset. Having a talented workforce is just as critical as our state’s credit rating or having a balanced budget. Taxpayers expect us to run government efficiently and effectively, but those expectations cannot be fulfilled without the very best employees.
Dayton has been intentional about the management and meaningful support of our workforce. In addition to pension reform and labor contract approvals, we secured paid parental leave for families last year. In January, we reinforced our commitment to a respectful workplace – starting with the Sexual Harassment Prevention Report and recommendations, new trainings, and greater emphasis on reporting.
Throughout the last seven years, the Dayton administration has focused its efforts on strengthening the workplace culture of inclusion. We continue striving toward diversifying our workforce to better mirror the Minnesotans we serve. With this effort we gain greater skill sets, experiences, and viewpoints, which ultimately contribute to better government. It also has a big impact on our ability to recruit and retain talent.
And these are just some of the reasons we were named one of the best employers in the nation this year by Forbes.
Joining the administration of Gov. Mark Dayton was my first foray into the public sector at an executive level. Prior to accepting the governor’s appointment as a commissioner, I was a corporate tax lawyer and small business owner. I did not know what to expect my first day walking into a state agency. Eight years later, I can honestly say I am humbled by the hard work and dedication of public employees.
This session, we demonstrated that we value and appreciate their service. I hope we inspire more people to seek careers in the public sector. We need great minds and innovative thinkers who will continue moving this state forward. We need every voice at the table and a workforce that reflects the populations we serve.
To all public employees - whether at the federal, state, county, or local level – I want to say thank you. I am honored to stand with you as a proud public servant.
(Myron Frans is the commissioner of Minnesota Management and Budget)