Pay raise deal ready for final votes

Budget Commissioner Myron Frans appeared before a House/Senate conference committee to discuss pay raises. Tim Pugmire | MPR News

The Minnesota House and Senate will take final action Thursday on legislation to delay DFL Gov. Mark Dayton’s big raises for commissioners until July 1.

On Wednesday night, House and Senate negotiators approved the conference report on a divided voice vote. The report reflects a deal reached between Dayton and legislative leaders. It will shift authority over the raises back to the Legislature on July 2.

That provision effectively gives Dayton a one-day window to reinstate the raises. Minnesota Management & Budget Commissioner Myron Frans asked lawmakers to add clarification in the bill that the raises won’t be reinstated automatically.

“I’m just simply saying that we think there is some ambiguity there,” Frans said. “But we interpret it to be clear that the governor has authority on July 1st to make those determinations, and the governor will do whatever the governor decides to do on that date.”

Some lawmakers assume Dayton will use the window to reinstate the same raises. But House Ways and Means Chair Jim Knoblach, R-St. Cloud, said he’ll wait and see what the governor decides to do.

“I wouldn’t automatically assume that the governor is going to give the same raises on July 1st,” Knoblach said. “I guess in some cases, if this becomes law and the governor has that authority, I would encourage him to carefully consider what those salaries should be, as I’m sure he will.”

The pay raise provisions are part of a broader bill that solves some short-term budget problems at three state departments and the Minnesota Zoo.