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Dayton's slams 'despicable' lawmakers for blocking 2.5% raise for state workers

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Governor Mark Dayton blasted a group of lawmakers as "contemptible" after they failed to reach an agreement Thursday on giving 30,000 state employees their annual salary rises.

MPR reports that members of a joint House and Senate subcommittee were deadlocked after a vote on four separate contracts that had been negotiated with labor unions by the Dayton administration, with 5 Democrats in favor and 5 Republicans against.

The contracts include across the board 2.5 percent salary increases in each of the next two years, along with incremental and merit-based pay raises for eligible workers, the news organization reports.

Dayton responded witheringly to the impasse at his press conference Thursday afternoon, saying it's different from when he gave state commissioners (whom he appoints himself) raises of up to $35,000, which prompted a change in the law so in future years any pay raises have to be approved by lawmakers.

"It's a terrible decision. These are not commissioners, they are high-level, professional career workers within various agencies," he said, saying many of them pre-date his governorship and would have been hired by former governors Tim Pawlenty and Jesse Ventura, before adding: "It's immaterial who put them there."

"To exclude workers from receiving their 2.5 percent annual increase ... it's just despicable," he went on, "and those people who are just against government and against me are victimizing people who have no connections other than they happen to be career people."

"It's just nothing but contemptible for these people to have that attitude. I wonder how many of them would have done this under Pawlenty's watch?"

The Associated Press notes that state law will allow some of the contracts to go into effect within 30 days anyway if no other action is taken, so some people may still get their pay raise given that the Legislature doesn't return until March.

According to MPR, Republicans on the subcommittee argued that the increases are "too costly" and "out of synch with the private sector."

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