Gov. Mark Dayton responded to criticism from Republicans about significant pay raises for his commissioners. The raises, approved by the Legislature in 2013, took effect this year and allowed the limit on salaries for commissioners to move from 85 or 95 percent of the governor's salary to 133 percent of his salary. The 2013 measure also allowed the governor to raise the pay of the commissioners without legislative approval.
"No controversy as far as I’m concerned," Dayton said after an event celebrating the 25th anniverary of the Minnesota State Lottery. Commissioners haven't received raises in 12 years, he said.
"I want the best people and I want them to be able to support their families, and obviously the salaries are a lot of money, but I’ve had people leave state government, my commissioners, to go over to local government and make 50 percent more than what I was able to pay them," he said. The stagnant wages were hurting state government's ability to attract and retain top talent, he said.
Many of the raises were as much as $35,000. The top salary was about $155,000.
Rep. Roz Peterson, R-Lakeville, released a statement on the raises: "At a time when take-home pay for families remains flat and some Minnesotans are still struggling to make ends meet, it's outrageous that the Governor would approve enormous salary increases for commissioners and political appointees already making six-figure salaries."