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Tracking Minnesota’s political scene and keeping you up-to-date on those elected to serve you

Gov. Dayton announces big raises for commissioners

Gov. Mark Dayton released a letter to the four legislative leaders explaining his decision to give significant raises to the commissioners who run his major departments. 

The six commissioners who run the departments of revenue, management and budget, public safety, transportation, human services and natural resources will make nearly $155,000. Other commissioners will earn $150,000 and $145,000. The chair of the Met Council is now a full time position earning about $145,000. 

The raises for his commissioners have brought Dayton significant political heat all year and caused an intra-DFL rift with Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, which persisted through the recently ended legislative session and special session.

At a news conference outside his office, House Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, unleashed an attack just minutes after Dayton announced the raises  

"I am very disappointed. Our intent in giving the governor some time to reconsider this was that he would talk to Minnesotans and really find out from Minnesotans that this is out-of-touch," said Daudt, who just finished his first term as Speaker. 

Dayton defended the raises as necessary for ensuring quality management of important government agencies.

"The salaries of high-level public officials are convenient targets for anti-government partisans, who don't understand the sophisticated administrative skills required to provde quality government services and care even less," he wrote in his sharply worded letter. 

"But competitive salaries are essential to attract and retain the best public executives, whose successes, in turn, provide taxpayers with improved services, greater efficiencies, and new innovations, which are worth many times the cost of of their salaries," Dayton wrote. 

Click here to view the letter and salaries

Obama to discuss overtime changes in La Crosse

WASHINGTON — On Thursday in La Crosse, Wisconsin, President Obama will promote extended overtime protections, which affect 90,000 Minnesota workers, White House officials said.

In a conference call Tuesday with reporters advancing the Midwest trip, White House officials said, currently only salaried workers making less than $23,660 annually are eligible for overtime. However, now workers who earn up to $50,440 annually would be eligible for overtime pay once they surpass 40 hours of work in a week. Meaning once an employee works 40 hours a week they are eligible for one and a half times their hourly wage.

The policy change potentially extends overtime eligibility to nearly 5 million white collar workers. Minnesotans make up two percent of the white collar workers affected by the change.

The president will take this action without consulting Congress, though it has to go through a lengthy comment period first.

Sen. Al Franken said in a statement Tuesday that he applauds the president for “taking this important step to bring broader overtime protections to millions of Americans.”

Congressional Progressive Caucus Co-Chairs Reps. Keith Ellison, DFL-Minn., and Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., said in a statement “that in the richest nation on earth, no one working overtime should worry about making ends meet. This new overtime rule is a powerful step towards that goal … We look forward to working with President Obama to continue putting more money in the pockets of America’s working families.”

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