Majority Leader Tom Bakk explains why he wants to delay giving raises to Governor Dayton’s commissioners until July 1, 2015. Bakk says the raises are probably deserved, but he wants the legislature and the public to learn more and discuss the issue first. Bakk’s amendment, which was attached to the emergency funding bill, passed 63-2 and set off a public feud between Dayton and Bakk. Dayton says Bakk never talked to him about what he was going to do and “stabbed me in the back”. The two leaders are both from the DFL party.
Transcript and video of Bakk’s statement on the Senate floor
“There’s a lot of information that I think we don’t know. We’ve read a lot in the newspapers about the salary increases and they very most likely are warranted. But I think the challenge is those of us in the legislature and the public haven’t had an opportunity to have a discussion yet about how pay has lagged for these department heads in state government.
“I was encouraged to learn from the governor yesterday that he actually went through the process of a Hays study, which is a very common study that the state has been using since the 70s, a lot of private corporations do it. They compare the jobs to other jobs in other industries, or other governmental agencies to get an idea of if we have comparable salaries. Apparently the governor hired a consultant to go through a significant Hays study report, and that is why you see all of the different numbers for commissioners. Those are the results that came out of the Hays study.
“I think it would be very helpful for the legislature to see those studies results so we all understand in all the different committees that have jurisdiction over the state departments, the rational that the governor came to in granting the raises.
“So what the amendment has the effect of doing is just delaying or suspending those salary increases until July 1st. That will give the legislature time I think to put the kind of thoughtful review into the study and the salary to make sure that indeed is warranted.
“Members I bring this with a very, very, serious, serious decision that I understand article three of the constitution and the separation of powers and the governor has his authority over certain things and the legislature its autonomy. And I don’t bring this in any way to make the administration think that members of the legislature want to meddle in his departments setting pay for people. But I do think we have an oversight responsibility to make sure that taxpayers’ dollars are being spent as wisely as possible. And I think we some responsibility to make sure we have competitive wages so that we get the best quality people serving in state government that we can.
“So members I would appreciate your support for the A11 amendment. I think it buys us the time that we need in order do a thoughtful review and we may find out that the governor’s actions are well substantiated by the study and may well be by the end of this session we’ll be comfortable with where the the governor is at.”