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For more information contact: Caitlyn Stenerson 651-296-5989
Posted: Feb 13 2015 5:12PM
Legislative Update (Feb. 13, 2015)
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
While we’ve been hard at work this week discussing legislation that will enable the growth of good-paying jobs for hard-working Minnesotans and considering agency proposals in preparation for the upcoming biennial budget process, a very serious issue has just come to light: pay raises were doled out by Governor Dayton to his appointed commissioners that will cost taxpayers more than $1 million over the next biennium. Furthermore, unless we can rectify this situation, the next shoe to drop will likely result in a ripple effect of pay increases to employees within each of those state agencies whose salaries are predicated on commissioners’ salaries.
Under the law passed by the DFL-controlled legislature in 2013 and signed by Governor Dayton, the range of pay up to which a commissioners can earn is 133% of the governor’s salary. Based on the volume of phone calls and emails I've received from constituents, I have a feeling you'll be as troubled as I was to learn that the irresponsible salary increases the governor issued to his commissioners the first week in January followed pay raises of $5,000 in 2013 and yet another $6,000 increase in 2014. Perhaps the most egregious of the exorbitant raises was the one given to the recently appointed head of the Metropolitan Council, Chairman Adam Duininck, who happens to be the husband of Governor Dayton’s Chief of Staff and a former DFL political operative. He will now be paid a whopping $144,991 salary ... that's $86,492 more than his predecessor earned!
Most of Governor Dayton’s commissioners were earning in the range of $120,000 prior to the unilateral action to raise their salaries. Shockingly, several commissioners received compensation increases of up to $34,000 – virtually unheard of in the private sector. In fact, just yesterday, during the State Government Finance committee's questioning of Myron Frans, Commissioner of the Minnesota Management and Budget office, one of my Republican colleagues pointed out that these salary increases are higher than the average annual income of residents in House Districts represented by several of the DFL legislators on our committee - each of whom had voted to give the governor that authority.
Meanwhile, some of these same commissioners have made requests of the legislature for $15 million in additional funding to get their agencies through the biennium which ends on June 30th, 2015, because they were unable to keep their spending within the budget allocated by the legislature to their agency. Needless to say, this is not how the private sector operates.
To say that the growth of state government has exploded over the past four years would be an understatement. I completely agree with one of my colleagues who referred to what he's witnessed the past few years as 'government gone wild' from the House floor just yesterday. The legislature has gone from debating the merits of a $34 billion budget to what is sounding like a presumed expectation we'll pass a $42 billion biennial budget this session. Clearly, the spending trajectory our state is on is completely unsustainable. As legislators entrusted with our constituents' hard-earned tax dollars, we must become laser-focused on our fiduciary responsibility to the hard-working taxpayers of our districts and state. We simply cannot afford to do otherwise.
While it will take time to address this pay-raise fiasco, my Republican colleagues and I are working on legislation to rein in the dramatic growth of state government and spending. Legislative oversight will be a key component of our proposals - including that of all future salary decisions regarding commissioner pay.
On a lighter note, I've really enjoyed having already met with so many constituents at the Capitol. Thank you for your involvement in the legislative process! As always, if you are interested in discussing this issue further or would like to bring another matter of concern to my attention, please do not hesitate to contact me. You may schedule a time to visit me in my office by calling my Legislative Assistant, Claire, at (651) 296-4272, or feel free to email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure that your friends and family stay informed about this and other legislative issues by signing up for my email updates here.
I hope that you enjoy a lovely Valentine’s Day weekend.
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