Pay raises begin to distract Senate

Sparks flew between Gov. Mark Dayton and Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, last week after Bakk challenged a planned pay raise for members of Dayton’s cabinet. The challenge succeeded, and the Senate voted to delay any increases to cabinet members’ salaries until July 1.

After the vote, Dayton complained at a news conference that Bakk had “stabbed [him] in the back.” Saying he had “learned a brutal lesson” and alleging that Bakk “connives behind [his] back,” Dayton threatened to veto any bill that would postpone the salary increases.

The pay raises in question would cost a total of $800,000 and affect 28 members of Dayton’s cabinet, some of whose annual salaries would increase by as much as $35,000. The raises are meant to make government positions more attractive to talented workers who might otherwise seek jobs in the private sector.

Responding to Dayton’s comments, Bakk said yesterday that personal attacks are “not [his] style” and declined to retaliate.

We commend Bakk’s restraint. Minnesota spends tens of billions of dollars annually, meaning that the pay raises in question would total less than one-half of 1 percent of the state’s annual expenditures. With this in mind, we feel somewhat exasperated by the attention lavished on pay increases instead of on more substantive topics such as education or infrastructure.

Rather than inflammatory rhetoric that serves no one’s best interests, in the future we would like to see Dayton work alongside Bakk to solve more serious problems that affect the state.