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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Paul Torkelson (R)

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REP. TORKELSON CRITICAL OF GOVERNOR’S DECISION TO HAND OUT COMMISSIONER PAY RAISES

Thursday, February 12, 2015

ST. PAUL – Do you think a six-figure salary is fair compensation to work in state government?

Recently Governor Dayton gave 30 members of his cabinet nearly $1 million in permanent salary increases. This after they received a $5,000 raise in 2013 and another $6,000 in 2014. Prior to Governor Dayton’s action on January 5, nearly all of them had been making at least $100,000 a year.

State Representative Paul Torkelson called the governor’s move a ridiculous waste of taxpayer dollars.

“These commissioners received a five percent raise each of the last two years, while our nursing homes finally saw a five percent funding increase last session after going years without new money,” Torkelson said. “Now the governor has given these same people a 30 percent raise, but ignored nursing homes in his budget that would increase state spending by $3 billion. It’s just another glaring example of misplaced priorities.”

Last session a Democratic-controlled legislature approved a bill giving Governor Dayton the authority to change the limit on commissioners’ salaries without legislative or public approval. Torkelson voted no on this proposal.

The salary increase move will cost Minnesotans roughly $800,000 per year.

Torkelson highlighted a few of the new salary adjustments. Minnesota’s natural resources commissioner, who was making $119,517, will now collect $154,992. The commissioner of Iron Range Resources will see a jump from $105,465 to $140,000. And the head of the Metropolitan Council will see his salary change from $58,499 to $144,991.

“How disgusting it must be for people in our district who haven’t had a raise in years to watch the governor give tens of thousands of dollars to his friends,” Torkelson said. “Once again, we are seeing the continued impacts of one-party control of state government from the last two years. The Democrats basically gave Governor Dayton the checkbook and told him to spend, and that’s exactly what he did.”