Friends and Neighbors,
Late last week, we heard news that Governor Dayton had recently handed out double-digit taxpayer-funded pay increases to members of his Cabinet. Most of the governor’s commissioners and other political appointees were already making six-figure salaries. It is estimated that the pay increases could cost the state as much as $1.4 million dollars for the next biennium. These pay raises range from 19% to 58% with one of the governor’s appointees receiving an $84,000 raise from the previous year’s salary.
It is important to note that the governor’s ability, legally, to raise the salaries of his cabinet members is due to a bill passed in 2013 by the DFL-led legislature. This change in law allowed the limit on salaries for commissioners to move from 85 or 95 percent of the governor’s salary to 133 percent of the governor’s salary. It also allows the governor to raise the pay of his commissioners without legislative or public approval.
It is unfortunate that the governor chose to use more taxpayer money to give his political appointees such a dramatic raise. This is especially true given the fact that the state agencies that many of these officials are in charge of, have recently had to cut back on hours for staff or remove programs due to the mismanagement of already massive taxpayer funded budgets. I know most folks have not had that sort of raise recently, if ever.
My colleagues and I in the legislature have begun the process of addressing the governor’s pay raises and have started taking steps to see that the governor will no longer have the authority to hand out raises without approval from the legislature.
On Monday, the House Ways and Means Committee considered and passed an amendment to remove $40,000 from three departments’ requests for additional funding and to allocate the reduction to the commissioner salaries. Also, Rep. Roz Peterson has authored a bill that would require legislative approval for executive branch salaries and increases.
Stay tuned as my office and I will keep you up-to-date on any new information in regards to these pay raises.
Last week, the Aging and Long Term Care Committee heard and passed House File 316. Dubbed the “Long Term Care Rate Reform Bill”, this piece of legislation would reform the current nursing home payment system and change the way Minnesota pays for services for older adults. Doing so would preserve nursing home access, ensure quality, promote efficiency, and invest in those providing senior care.
Chronic underfunding has not only weakened providers, but has left them incapable of providing competitive wages and benefits to prospective employees, leading to a significant shortage of professional caregivers.
As a member of this committee, I am glad to be a part of the process that is currently underway to address the funding and staffing problems that are occurring in many of our rural nursing homes. I am excited about the work that we have done so far and am looking forward to our continued work on this important issue.
Staying In Touch
A reminder to take time to read my column that was published last week in the Faribault Daily News on why I believe the Governor’s budget and transportation proposals are wrong for Minnesota. You can read the column here.
Also, a heartfelt thank you to those of you who attended last week’s property tax listening session with myself and Rep. Steve Drazkowski. I appreciated hearing from so many of you about how property taxes are affecting you, your family, and business. Thank you for the great discussion.
Please encourage your family, friends, or co-workers to sign up for my weekly email updates. They can sign up by visiting my official House page.
As always, do not hesitate to contact me to discuss any questions, comments, or concerns you may have regarding the legislature. I can be reached by phone at 651-296-8237 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also stay connected with me by visiting my Facebook page and my Twitter account.