To the editor:
The state legislators elected to represent our district in 2010, Sen. Gary Dahms and Rep. Chris Swedzinski, support a budget-balancing effort that would be disastrous to southwest Minnesota.
S. F. No. 1047, State Government Appropriations, would freeze state employee salaries for the next biennium and replace their current health plans with a "health savings account-eligible high-deductible health plan" that raises employee health premiums by almost $1,300 annually for a single person with no dependents and $6,800 annually for an employee with dependents.
In addition to a wage freeze, which SMSU faculty already took voluntarily in the last biennium, state employees' real wages would decrease by $1,300-6,800 annually under this health plan.
Forget about keeping up with inflation; forget about making state employment attractive so that Minnesota will have top quality state workers. How about simply maintaining a salary base that allows 50,000 Minnesota state employees and 150,000 additional Minnesotans who these employees support, to continue to pay their local mortgages, buy local goods and services, contribute to local charities and other organizations, and send their children to local schools without holes in their shoes?
Dahms is a graduate of the University of Minnesota; Swedzinski attended Minnesota State University, Mankato. With their support of this appropriations bill, our legislators turn their backs on the institutions that taught and fostered them. Their efforts to balance the budget on the backs of state employees is illogical, unfair, and mean-spirited.
I urge the citizens of Districts 21 and 21A to call these legislators to task. The bill threatens a large number of state employees in our region as well as the health of our four-year university and community college campuses. If state employee wages decrease by such a large amount practically overnight, these citizens will not be able to purchase the goods and services their communities provide.
This bill not only harms state employees, but everyone in southwest Minnesota. And when the fallout hits our regional economy, we will have Swedzinski and Dahms to blame.