Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton is expected to re-issue pay raises to his commissioners on July 1, but Republican lawmakers are already urging the governor to use restraint. The one-day window was part of a compromise this past session, with all future raises requiring legislative approval.
"We are here today to encourage the governor to be reasonable," said Senate Minority Leader David Hann (R-Eden Prairie).
Gov. Dayton first handed out raises to his commissioners in January. Five of them -- the heads of the DNR, public safety, management and budget, revenue, and transportation -- all received pay hikes of more than $35,000, a nearly 30-percent raise.
The legislature rescinded the raises, but on the eve of the governor's privilege to raise them again, lawmakers are urging restraint.
"At a time when take-home pay for many families remains flat, I urge you to reconsider the pay raises you awarded your commissioners in January," Rep. Sarah Anderson (R-Plymouth) wrote in a letter.
Minority Leader Hann believes the raises should be limited to 2.5 percent.
"This is what the contracts with the state employees union amounted to," Sen. Hann said. "And these are the same people that go on and on about exorbitant pay of CEOs. Why in the world would the governor then give his commissioners then such exorbitant pay raises?"
The governor is not indicating what he'll do on July 1, but still believes his raises are appropriate.
"I thought they were appropriate salaries. I thought they were necessary to be competitive salaries, and I thought the people who received those salaries earned them," Dayton said last Thursday. "And I realize they are high salaries for everyone in Minnesota but so are other top executive salaries in the private sector and public sector."
"To equate commissioners with CEOs and how much they can make in the private sector is like comparing an apple to a bowling ball -- it's not even the same realm," said Sen. David Osmek (R-Mound) in a rebuttal.