ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — The Minnesota House repealed on Thursday those controversial pay hikes Gov. Mark Dayton gave to his Cabinet.

But top state officials may get a raise anyway.

It’s a pay hike controversy that caused a bitter war of words at the Capitol after the governor awarded raises as high as $35,000 each to his Cabinet members.

Cabinet members have gone without substantial pay hikes for many years.

But the size of these raises brought an unusually negative reaction.

“The average person in the state of Minnesota who’s struggling to pay bills says this doesn’t make any sense,” Rep. Matt Dean, R-Dellwood, said. “This is out of touch! This is out of touch!”

Lawmakers voted to roll back those pay hikes until July 1 and took away the governor’s authority for future raises, beginning July 2.

But for one 24-hour period, Dayton will have the power to do it again.

The House action caps a week of unusually bitter rhetoric.

Most of it came from a fire-breathing Dayton, who lashed out against fellow Democratic leader Tom Bakk, who tried last week to delay the pay hikes.

Dayton accused Bakk of “conniving” behind his back and “backstabbing” him.

The pay hike deal was brokered by the Republican House Speaker.

Senate Democratic Majority Leader Tom Bakk, a longtime union negotiator, is downplaying the dust-up and says the Senate will vote on the bill next week.

“You just cannot let things get personal,” Bakk said, “because there is always another issue to work through, so that’s just my leadership style.”

The bill passed by the House is important all on its own, without the pay hike changes.

It also includes emergency money for the Minnesota Zoo to operate, for hospitals to fight Ebola and improvements for St. Peter Security Hospital.

 

Pat Kessler

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