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State workers won't get back-pay after shutdown

Friday is the last scheduled payday for the 22,000 state workers who are laid off until the state government agrees on a budget.

But even when -- if? -- Mark Dayton and the Republicans iron things out, there's not a dime of back-pay coming to those state employees. Starting next week, their only option is to apply for unemployment benefits.

One legislator has an idea to balance the pain between state workers and legislators, most of whom are still getting paid. But for now, state employees will have to suffer alone.

The workers' situation is a result of the last collective bargaining agreements the public employee unions -- the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and the Minnesota Association of Professional Employees -- signed with the state, according to KSTP.

Under those conditions, the employees aren't due for back-pay after the shutdown ends. After the 2005 shutdown, which lasted nine days, 9,000 state employees were awarded 50 percent back-pay for the time lost. 

State Rep. and all-around tough guy Tony Cornish wants to force legislators into a similar deal. Cornish, a Republican from Good Thunder, is the author of a new bill that would cut off legislators' pay, and a handful of their sweet benefits, if the state is ever in a shutdown again.

Cornish is one of the legislators who's not taking a check until the state is up and running again. He told WCCO that if he can't get the bill into this year's session, he'll bring it up again in 2012.

Next time, legislators could be under threat of living without a paycheck. Or they could just behave like a normal state, and agree on a budget.

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