St. Paul, MN – A story released Tuesday by APM Reports, a nonpartisan investigative news website, shows Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton (DFL) authorized nearly $80,000 in severance payments to outgoing employees.
APM Reports explains that Dayton approved the severance payments on three separate occasions, saying in 2012 the Governor approved a $27,097 severance payment to former commissioner of the Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED), as well as $18,064 to former Director of Higher Education Services Sheila Wright in 2011 and a massive $33,750 (as well as $10,490 in unused vacation and sick time) in 2016 to yet another DEED commissioner, Katie Clark Sieben.
Republicans are questioning Dayton’s actions. In a press release Tuesday House Speaker Kurt Daudt (R – Crown) calls on Dayton to “explain potentially unauthorized taxpayer-funded severance payments.” The press release claims this practice is unusual, stating, “Compensation is governed by the Managerial Plan, which is ratified by the legislature, and generally does not allow for severance of this amount for commissioners who resign voluntarily.”
“Once again, Governor Dayton has disrespected taxpayers and used their money to inappropriately reward his top officials who are already making six-figure salaries,” Daudt said. “Today’s report highlights the importance of House Republicans’ role as a check and balance on Democrats’ wasteful spending. Democrats have awarded bonuses to MNsure executives, pay raises to top administration officials, and now unwarranted severance checks. It’s time for them to stop rewarding their high-paid friends and start respecting the tax dollars of hardworking Minnesotans.”
APM Reports says that Dayton officials say the payments were “appropriate and allowed by law.”
Daudt said Republicans plan to introduce legislation next session aimed at explicitly prohibiting the Governor from awarding severance checks to political appointees who resign voluntarily to prevent any future waste of taxpayer dollars.