Bakk not yet ready to move on pay raise delay

Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk now says he wants to talk to Gov. Dayton before committing to the House approach on commissioner pay raises. Tim Pugmire | MPR News

The top Democrat in the Minnesota Senate says he is not yet ready to embrace the legislation passed by the House last week to delay DFL Gov. Mark Dayton’s pay raises for commissioners until July 1.

Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, said Monday that he needs to talk to the governor before accepting the House language.

“Nothing will be on the governor’s desk that he does not support,” Bakk said.

The Senate included the pay raise delay in the deficiency funding measure it passed earlier this month. It was a move that angered Dayton and prompted his public scolding of Bakk.

Last week, the House passed the same delay, along with a subtraction of money to cover the wages already paid out in three state department. They also added a provision that shifts the authority for future raises back to the Legislature.

House Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, said the measure was based on an agreement he had reached with the governor. Dayton has not made any public comments about the deal.

Bakk said he wants direct confirmation from the governor. He also wants a House-Senate conference committee to take testimony on the matter this week.

“The other provisions in the bill haven’t been through a Senate committee. So, I’m reluctant,” he said. “But if the governor really feels like he wants it, I guess we’re going to try to accommodate that. But we took a pretty strong vote against an amendment on the floor that’s very much some of the language included in the bill now.”

Bakk said he has a breakfast scheduled Wednesday with Dayton. It will be their first conversation since their public dustup over the issue.

Final House and Senate votes on the conference report are expected to come on Thursday.

UPDATE

Speaker Daudt said he’s confident that his agreement with Gov. Dayton is solid, and he’s confident that Bakk was on the same page.

“We have all agreed to that language,” Daudt said. “I’ve got no reason to believe that anything has changed.”

Also, a spokesman for Dayton said the governor is holding a breakfast meeting Wednesday with several DFL legislators, not just Bakk.