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Gov. Dayton is pitted against Tom Bakk, a fellow Democrat, in a spitting fight over Gov. Dayton’s pay increase for commissioners:

Gov. Mark Dayton erupted in anger Thursday in a dispute with the DFL Senate leader over a weeks-long controversy surrounding pay raises the governor gave to his cabinet. “To have a majority leader of the Senate come in and stab me in the back and blindside me is absolutely unacceptable,” Dayton said.

Dayton’s ire came after Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk led the Senate in voting to suspend the salary increases for state commissioners. All but two members of the DFL-controlled Senate voted with Bakk in favor of the proposal. The friction between the Capitol’s two most powerful DFLers threatens to cast a cloud over the rest of the 2015 legislative session. The two have tussled before, but Dayton indicated Thursday that their relations now were beyond repair.

Dayton said Bakk, a former ally, has proved himself untrustworthy because he brought forth the salary smackdown without any warning. “I’m confronted with two hostile bodies of the Legislature, one with a leader I believe I can trust (Republican House Speaker Kurt Daudt) and one I know I can’t trust,” Dayton said. “I certainly learned a brutal lesson today that I can’t trust (Bakk.) I can’t believe what he says to me and connives behind my back.”

My initial reaction is “Wow!” My next reaction is ‘That’s what happens when a spoiled brat gets criticized.’ From a strategic standpoint, I hope Speaker Daudt brings the Senate bill up for a vote ASAP. When Gov. Dayton vetoes the bill, then the legislature should vote to override Gov. Dayton’s veto.

If House Democrats vote to sustain Gov. Dayton’s veto, Republicans could use that in their 2016 campaign, arguing that the DFL is in the pocket of the government employee unions and not in the favor of the taxpayers. It’s a perfect wedge issue.

More importantly, it’s a positive issue for Republicans because they’d be on the right side of the issue.

Dayton said he will no longer negotiate with Bakk without witnesses.

Bakk declined Thursday afternoon to comment on Dayton’s rebuke but earlier in the day said he had spoken to the governor Wednesday about the options the Senate might have regarding the salary increases. Bakk, DFL-Cook, indicated one of the options he mentioned was delaying the pay hikes through June. “I laid this out,” Bakk said.

I don’t doubt that Sen. Bakk and Gov. Dayton will work together on the budget. That being said, I’m certain that Gov. Dayton’s relationship with Sen. Bakk will be icy:

Dayton said he would veto the entire funding measure, which his administration had requested, if it comes to him with the Senate’s salary-suspension intact. The governor said, unlike the House plan, the Senate proposal would negate his legal authority to increase commissioners’ salaries. He accused Bakk, who ran for governor against Dayton in 2010, of meddling in his administration.

The people already voted and they gave me the authority last fall,” Dayton said. “The balance of power is the legislative and executive branch.”

Gov. Dayton is right. This has been voted on. In fact, here’s a list of DFL senators who voted to give Gov. Dayton that authority:

Sen. Bakk voted to give Gov. Dayton the authority to raise these salaries, then voted to delay those pay increases. Patricia Torres-Ray and Sandy Pappas voted to give Gov. Dayton the authority, too. The difference is that they voted to not strip that authority from Gov. Dayton.

4 Responses to “Highlighting the Dayton-Bakk Fiasco”

  • Terry Stone says:

    If additional money for commissioners were to actually be used to recruit the finest in each field, some sense could be made of the argument for massive raises.

    In reality, Dayton fills his leadership positions with political activists and campaign contributors. On any other planet, these commissioners would be paying us to achieve a position of such power and access from which to pursue their political agendas.

  • Rex Newman says:

    I think Bakk has boxed himself out of his leadership post. The DFL is already in need of a goat to blame for the excesses of the SLOB. Bakk is rural, not metro. And now this. Not seeing any serious anti-Dayton faction out there for him to lead, his future as Senate Majority Leader is in serious doubt.

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