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 about $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.
Most members of Dayton's cabinet had been making about $120,000 before the increases announced Wednesday, which are nearly identical to raises given by Dayton but then delayed by the Legislature earlier this year.
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.