Relations between Minnesota's top two Democrats remain strained following a public falling out over commissioner pay raises, with Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk saying he was surprised at Gov. Mark Dayton's recent criticism of him.
Bakk led a vote in the Senate to delay controversial pay raises of up to $35,000 for Dayton's cabinet members until July 1, prompting Dayton to accuse his fellow DFLer of being a backstabber.
This week, Bakk made his first public comments since Dayton's attack, telling the Star Tribune: "If the governor wants to make it personal, he can. But I’m not going to get into a tit-for-tat, personal attacks back and forth. It’s just not my style."
The raises given to 26 state commissioners will cost $800,000, and research by BringMeTheNews last week showed that in some cases, salaries for state executives will outstrip those received in many other Midwest states.
On a visit to the Capitol this week, MPR notes Dayton's approach was more conciliatory in tone, saying "it's imperative" the two of them do their job for Minnesota "constructively together," but expressed doubts over whether the two could repair their relationship.
Although the two haven't spoken face-to-face yet, Bakk expressed a desire to work through the issues with the governor this week, telling MPR: "There always is another issue to try to work through after one disagreement where you need to find common ground."
Bakk's move to delay the pay raises has been rolled up into an unrelated $16 million emergency spending bill, the Star Tribune reports.
Essentially, instead of considering that pay raise delay bill on its own, it's now simply part of another proposal that includes transportation spending.
So if the current package gets through the Republican-controlled House and Democrat-controlled Senate, and to Dayton's desk, he has two options:
- Veto the bill, which allows the pay raises but denies that extra transportation funding.
- Sign the bill, taking that extra funding while delaying the raises.