Public Employee Demands Meet Cool Response

Aaron Flint posted on August 24, 2010 08:43 :: 1225 Views

The Flathead Beacon’s Dan Testa gets reaction from Governor Schweitzer’s budget director and Flathead Valley lawmakers, offering another look at a proposed continuation of the pay freeze for public employees in Montana.  

 Last time I spoke with Eric Feaver, President of MEA-MFT, he mentioned that he hopes to come to an agreement with Gov. Schweitzer before the legislative session.  Here’s what Dave Ewer, Governor Schweitzer’s budget director, had to say about a proposed pay freeze:

“I kind of want to be gentle about it because I’m not unsympathetic,” Ewer said. “People have kept their jobs in state government…I think that’s an accomplishment.” “This administration has successfully gotten through a very difficult recession without having to result in furloughs for state workers,” he added. “Most states have had significant layoffs.” 

Meanwhile, two Flathead Valley lawmakers from both parties seemed to be on the same page, telling this to Testa:

State Sen. Verdell Jackson (R-Kalispell): “I have a more difficult situation when I’m talking to people that have lost their jobs,” Jackson said. “I just can’t believe we’re going to have the money to satisfy what Eric Feaver is wanting.”

Rep. Mike Jopek (D-Whitefish): “It’s very unrealistic to anticipate that there’s going to be any huge new source of revenue,” Jopek said. “As far as any tax increases, I just don’t see it.” 

“I think they’re being silly on it, though they are just negotiating,” Jopek added. “I just don’t see the public sector getting raises, I just don’t.” 

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