ST. PAUL (AP) -- Picking up where his predecessor left off, Gov. Tim Pawlenty is encouraging changes to the way school districts negotiate contracts and the way teachers are paid.
Pawlenty addressed a forum Thursday, telling school officials that holding the line on teacher contract settlements is essential in these tough budget times. He favors law changes that would help school leaders do just that.
His call echoes that of former Gov. Jesse Ventura, who often complained that districts entered into contracts richer than they could afford.
"We need to hold down bargaining costs. We can't afford the trajectory any more," Pawlenty said during a conference on alternative teacher compensation hosted by the Association of Metropolitan School Districts.
"The dynamics around local collective bargaining won't allow you to get that done. We will have to help you," Pawlenty said. "We will give you some tools so we can slow down the personnel costs that schools face in context of this crisis."
Pawlenty made no specific proposal, but changes lawmakers expect to debate this year include binding arbitration and other restrictions on teachers' right to strike. The changes could dramatically affect the balance of power between school districts and teachers unions.
Any proposed revisions to the state's Public Employees Labor Relations Act, or PELRA, will likely start a fight with Education Minnesota, the state's largest union.
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