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Legislative Audit Commission

Minutes

February 3, 2000

The meeting of the Legislative Audit Commission was called to order by Representative Dan McElroy on Thursday, February 3, 2000 at 11:40 A.M. in Room 112, State Capitol.

Members Present:

Representative Lynda Boudreau    Senator William Belanger
Representative Phil Carruthers Senator David Knutson
Representative Mindy Greiling Senator Keith Langseth
Representative Dan McElroy Senator Claire Robling
Senator Deanna Wiener

Members Excused:

Representative Chris Gerlach Senator Dave Johnson
Representative Kris Hasskamp Senator Sheila Kiscaden
Representative Philip Krinkie Senator James Metzen
Representative Peggy Leppik Senator Thomas Neuville
Representative Mary Jo McGuire    Senator Ember Reichgott Junge
Representative Wes Skoglund

Representative McElroy indicated the purpose of the meeting was to review the program evaluation report on state employee compensation. He recognized Roger Brooks, Deputy Legislative Auditor for the Program Evaluation Division.

Mr. Brooks reviewed several housekeeping items. Concerning the report on school district finances, he indicated that it was more difficult that originally anticipated to put complete data sets for individual school districts on the agency web site. Evaluation staff are looking at ways to pare down the data so it can be posted on the web. He indicated staff are also discussing the possibility of turning the data over to the Department of Children, Families and Learning so they can keep it current.

Mr. Brooks expressed concern over the leak to the press prior to the release of several program evaluation reports and suggested the Commission review its report release policy at a future meeting. He noted that the best practices review of local government building maintenance will be released in May and that staff have now begun work on a study of MnSCU. He also noted that the topic selection process would be beginning soon, and asked members to contact him with suggestions for topics.

Mr. Brooks reviewed the reasons why the Commission directed the office to conduct a study of state employee compensation and introduced Elliot Long, project manager, and evaluation specialists Jennifer Moenck Feige and Craig Helmstetter.

Mr. Long reviewed the objectives of the study, research methodology, topics that were studied, pay trends and pay comparisons with private sector employers. He indicated that the state's pay scales are compressed, noting that state clerical employees are paid a higher wage than those in the private sector, but on average, state professional employees are paid less than in the private sector. He noted that Minnesota has fewer state employees than other states, but that they are well paid compared to other states. He reviewed reasons for recruitment and retention problems and answered questions from members.

Representative McElroy recognized Wayne Simoneau, Acting Commissioner for the Department of Employee Relations. Commissioner Simoneau reviewed the agency's response to the report and answered questions from members. He indicated that continuing education, including higher education, is available to state employees and the reimbursement level is determined by each appointing authority. Mr. Long indicated that continuing education benefits were not broken out as a separate item in the study.

Commissioner Simoneau indicated there had been some discussion about the possibility of regional differences in pay, but in order to appropriately implement such a pay plan, they would need to know the regional cost of living differences. He noted that it has been the state's philosophy that people doing the same work should receive the same pay. Senator Langseth noted that he would not want to have “two different Minnesotas.” Mr. Brooks indicated that a program evaluation report on cost of living differences had been conducted in 1989.

The meeting adjourned at 12:30 P.M.

_______________________________________
Representative Dan McElroy, Chair

_______________________________________
Jean Barnhill, Recording Secretary

 

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