Friday, February 20, 2009

Chiefs of staff unessential 

From the MN Senate:

The Rules and Administration Committee, chaired by Sen. Lawrence Pogemiller (DFL-Mpls.), met Thurs., Feb. 19, to discuss the Senate budget and to review proposed changes to the Permanent Rules of the Senate and the Joint Rules of the Senate and the House of Representatives.

Pogemiller said that, in light of the severity of the budget shortfall and at the suggestion of several senior members, effective immediately there will be a staff hiring freeze and staff pay freeze for the remainder of 2009. In addition, upon the request of any member of the Senate, the Secretary of the Senate (Administrative) must reduce the salary paid to that member, by the amount requested by the member, for the remainder of the 86th Legislative Session, Pogemiller said.

Pogemiller said the Rules and Administration Committee may grant an exception to the hiring freeze only for an essential employee.

Michele Kelm-Helgen, executive director for the Rules and Administration Committee, briefed members on the steps that have already been taken to reduce the Senate budget. She said the Senate reduced it�s budget by $710,000, or three percent, last year and that December�s unallotment process further reduced the budget by $800,000. She said a total of 24 positions have been either eliminated or unfilled. Pogemiller said the magnitude of the shortfall is such that there will probably need to be further staff reductions, either through attrition or lay-offs.

Sen. David Senjem (R-Rochester) made a motion to change the effective date of the hiring freeze to Wed., Feb. 25. Senjem said the Republican Caucus is in the middle of the process to hire a new chief of staff and the delay would allow the process to be completed. The motion was defeated on a 6-2 roll call vote.

Same old Pogie.

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