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Minnesota approves salary cap waivers for 22 local officials

December 21, 2018

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Republican lawmakers have criticized Gov. Mark Dayton’s administration for approving pay raises for 22 local government officials.

Minnesota Management and Budget Commissioner Myron Frans recently notified lawmakers that his agency approved salary cap waivers for positions in Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey and Scott counties, as well as the Metropolitan Council and the city of Rochester, WCCO-TV first reported .

State law caps pay for most local government jobs at just over $171,000 — rising to over $175,000 next year. The cap is pegged to 110 percent of the governor’s salary. But the law also allows MMB to grant waivers when required skills or recruiting and retention challenges merit such a bump.

The new limits include some significant increases. The salary limit for Metro Transit’s general manager would jump from $208,000 to $297,000, a 42 percent raise. The cap for the Hennepin County administrator is set to rise 13 percent, to $250,000. The Ramsey County manager’s salary could increase 28 percent, to $220,000.

Rep. Marion O’Neill said Thursday that the administration pushed through the raises without proper legislative vetting. The Maple Lake Republican said Gov.-elect Tim Walz should intervene.

“These employees already enjoy salaries that are several times higher than the median income for Minnesota families, and I intend to recommend to Commissioner Frans that they not approve these sky-high requests,” she said.

But Frans, who is set to keep his job in the Walz administration unless the Senate declines to re-confirm him, said he followed proper procedures. And he stressed that his action doesn’t raise anyone’s salaries, it just lets local officials raise them.

“Why would you not want Minnesota workers to be paid a fair wage commensurate with other states? Why would you not want to be fair? If they have a problem, they can change the state law,” he said.

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