House GOP moves to slash pay of Metropolitan Council chairman

Published 9:44 am Tuesday, April 14, 2015

ST. PAUL — House Republicans are moving to cut the Metropolitan Council chairman’s salary in half, a top GOP lawmaker told The Associated Press, in a jab at Gov. Mark Dayton over a pay increase they believe went beyond the terms of a deal on commissioner salaries.

The governor and lawmakers appeared to have settled the dispute earlier this year with legislation that peeled back the major salary hikes that Dayton enacted for his cabinet in January. The fight reignited this month over Adam Duininck’s pay, which at nearly $123,000 is twice as much as the salaries of previous leaders of the Twin Cities-area regional planning agency and double what lawmakers believed his pay would be. Duininck’s position became a full-time job for the first time this year.

Dayton’s administration has defended Duininck’s salary as legal and prudent, saying he’s paid the same rate but works twice as much as previous chairs, overseeing an agency with more than 4,000 employees that sets housing and transportation policies around the Twin Cities and runs its transit systems.

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“The Legislature passed, and the Governor signed, legislation that reduced Commissioners’ salary rates to their 2014 level, which has been applied to the salary rate of the current Metropolitan Council Chair,” Dayton’s spokesman Linden Zakula said in a statement Monday.

The House Republicans’ budget for state agency spending will aim to slash Duininck’s pay to $60,000, said Rep. Sarah Anderson, chairwoman of the committee that handles state government financing.

That bill is expected to be released Tuesday morning.

“We’re just bringing it back to what everyone understood that salary would be,” the Plymouth Republican said.

Dayton announced last year that the Metropolitan Chair position would become a full-time job. Since February, Duininck’s salary has been set at $123,000. Dayton had originally set Duininck’s salary at $145,000.

In the Senate, Majority Leader Tom Bakk was unwilling to reopen a dispute that led to a public falling out with Dayton, a fellow Democrat. Asked last week if he wanted to speak with the governor about Duininck’s salary, he responded with a simple, “No.”