Gov. Mark Dayton on Monday told reporters that he planned to reinstate pay raises to his commissioners on Wednesday, arguing the pay hikes are essential to providing strong government services.
Dayton said he expects blowback from Republicans and others, but said "I'm going to do what I believe is right for the quality of state government in Minnesota."
The upcoming decision has been in the making since February, when news of the nearly $900,000 in raises to 30 commissioners first broke. The unilateral move irked Republicans in the Legislature and divided Capitol DFLers, most notably Dayton and Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook.
In late February, Dayton signed a compromise bill that rolled back the pay raises, restored that authority to the Legislature and gave the governor a one-day window to reinstate the raises July 1.
Dayton said Monday the pay hikes "won't be the maximum in most cases." He said they're necessary to attract top talent and even the playing field in the state. He said many local governments pay larger salaries for similar positions in state government.
Dayton also said that this summer, an advisory commission will begin culling finalists for the state's Supreme Court seat soon to be vacated by Justice Alan Page.
He said the commission met last week, and that he expects it will present him with three or four names in early August. "I'll have Justice Page's successor announced by the time he departs," he said.
Dayton also faces the prospect of finding a replacement for Justice Wilhelmina Marie Wright who was nominated to serve on the U.S. District Court for Minnesota in April. She is expected to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate sometime this year.
Dayton said that as he considers who will replace Page and possibly Wright, if she is confirmed, he is cognizant that the state's Supreme Court will lose two black jurists.
"I'm conscious of the diversity factor, conscious of the fact that when Justice Wright departs, there'll only be one woman, the chief justice, at that point. So that's also a consideration."