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At Minnesota Capitol, Bakk sticking to business in pay-raise dispute with Dayton

ST. PAUL - Minnesota Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk said Monday that he planned to take the high road with Gov. Mark Dayton, who called Bakk a conniving back-stabber last week.

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Minnesota Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk of Cook tells reporters on Monday, Feb. 16, 2015, that he expects to talk to Gov. Mark Dayton soon about their disagreement over commissioner salaries. (Forum News Service photo by Don Davis)

ST. PAUL - Minnesota Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk said Monday that he planned to take the high road with Gov. Mark Dayton, who called Bakk a conniving back-stabber last week.

"It is kind of one of my core leadership principles, I think, to never let any disputes become personal," said Bakk, DFL-Cook. "If the governor wants to make it personal, he can, but I’m not going to make it a tit-for-tat."

In his first comments to Capitol media since the governor erupted in anger over a delay in raises Bakk proposed for the governor’s commissioners, Bakk said his fellow Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party member was "incorrect" to claim he was blindsided by the delay. The veteran lawmaker said he mentioned the potential salary delay to Dayton before it passed on the Senate floor on Thursday.

The pay raises Dayton enacted earlier this year, which amount to $800,000 in hikes for 27 state agency heads, have roiled the Capitol for weeks. The issue has spilled over into budget decisions, delayed commissioner confirmations and fractured relations between the DFL governor and the DFL Senate.

While Senate and gubernatorial staff work to mend fences -- Bakk said the staff spoke about the issue over the weekend -- action awaits in the Minnesota House.

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A Minnesota House panel moved to nick state agency budgets by $40,000 to make up for the increased salaries of three commissioners. That measure, tucked into a $15 million emergency budget bill, is slated for the House floor this week.

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