Minnesota House Republicans on Tuesday criticized Gov. Mark Dayton for authorizing a total of $79,000 in severance payments to three state agency heads during his time as governor.
Receiving the payments were: former Department of Employment and Economic Development Commissioner Mark Phillips, who got $27,097 upon leaving the post in November 2012. His successor Katie Clark Sieben, who left the job in April of this year, got $33,750. Sheila Wright, who departed as director of the Office of Higher Education in September 2011 after just eight months on the job, got $18,064.
“Once again, Gov. Dayton has disrespected taxpayers and used their money to inappropriately reward his top officials who are already making six-figure salaries,” House Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, said in a statement.
American Public Media first reported the severance payments, which are authorized under state law. Dayton incurred criticism last year for quietly boosting salaries for his cabinet appointees.
“We offered severances of up to three months salary to three agency heads, as the law expressly permits,” Dayton spokesman Linden Zakula said in a statement. “The governor made those decisions, and in his judgment the circumstances justified those severances.”