Get ready the way the house budget is being proposed it looks like massive cost shifting to the local communities. The most apparent will be the social service cuts and probable retirement contribution cuts.
Some people are claiming that the legislature is out of control. I am more of an observer than an active participant because I am a republican not a libertarian or a Benson Free Stater (if you remember when Governor Benson was in office he promoted the Free State Project).
There appears to be a concerted effort by the legislature to dismantle state government. Whether it is through the budget process or individual legislation, it seems to be getting out of control.
Some of the more memorable comments from one of our chairman are, when asked about how do towns avoid these huge down shifted social costs, was to do away with the local social service programs and there would nothing to down shift too. Another one was how a chairman hoped all the state employees would smoke so they would die early and take the pressure off of the retirement system.
Let’s just talk about one bill HB 231 that would down shift 11 million dollars onto widows of dead troopers (who are on the state insurance system) and those state employees who were seriously injured in the line of duty and forced to take a retirement or get fired. When I discussed this with some fellow reps the response was, “we all have to feel the pain”. My response was (I’ll clean this language up from the conversation), you don’t think they’ve felt the pain? The people in our district that voted against this was Matt, me, Donna,Tim and Patty.
Now we get to the proposal to lay off almost 800 Department of Transportation employees so they can privatize their jobs. This was tried in the past and it failed. Now there is another proposal to eliminate the seniority rights for our state employees so if they are within a few months of retirement, they can be laid off with no retirement package to help save money.
Public employees know there has to be changes to the system and are willing to sit down and work on there changes; but, they have to be asked.
There were bills brought in to a committee to continue to cost shift health insurance costs on to the retirees. One such proposal was if your retirement payments are $20,000 a year then you would have to pay a 100% of your health insurance which would have been upwards to $18,000 per year. In short with all of these proposals, the state has broken its word to the state workers and, not only are we short on money; but, credibility.
You can hear the democrats smiling on some of the crazier votes such as HB231. This bill will be the bathroom bill that the democrats proposed.
My prediction based on what has happened so far is the republicans will lose a minimum of 125 seats in the next election. I believe we have broken our word to the voters by the craziness of what is going on and the voters will not forget. I think it is important that you contact your local reps and remind them of what you wanted us to do when you voted for us.