At a time when all state agencies are being asked to clamp down on their budgets, and even rural cities and counties are expected to give up a portion of their reserves to cure the state's budget ills, the notion that one state agency would lavish raises on its employees is ridiculous.
But that's exactly what Minnesota Attorney General Mike Hatch has proposed for his sizable staff -- he granted them 8 percent pay raises last week and plans another 7.6 percent hike in July.
His reasoning: His office must attract and retain skilled lawyers to do the people's work well. Some aren't making as much as some city attorneys, he says, and even with the raises, the pay will still lag.
This brings to mind a few questions for Hatch: First of all, this must not be a new problem -- all city attorneys, after all, didn't receive huge raises just this year. His staff hasn't bolted for higher-paying work yet. And if the threat of such an exodus has been there, why has Hatch bypassed several budget surplus years and decided to offer his raises during the first year in a decade when the state can't afford it?
Second, don't all state agencies need top talent? Of course they do.
Nobody's denying the importance of the attorney general's office, but it's insulting to other agencies that his employees should be deemed crucial enough to get raises while others are denied.
-- Austin Daily Herald
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