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Updated: 11/28/2011 7:10 PM
Created: 11/18/2011 12:28 PM | Print |  Email
By: Mark Albert

Rep. Wants Hearing After 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS Investigation

nullA member of the Minnesota House of Representatives is calling for a legislative hearing prompted by a 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS investigation that's due to air on Sunday about millions of dollars in severance payments to retiring state workers.

The largest payouts in the past three years have gone to administrators in the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system, an analysis of the state data showed.

State Rep. Joe Atkins, a DFLer from Inver Grove Heights, wrote a letter Friday to the chairman of the House Higher Education Committee, Rep. Bud Nornes (R-Fergus Falls), asking for the hearing "to examine the compensation in question, ascertain its size and scope, and determine whether there has been appropriate oversight and transparency relative to these payouts."

Atkins, a lawmaker in his fifth term who sits on the Higher Education Committee, continued, "In spite of the sizeable sums reportedly involved, I am not proposing a rush to judgment, nor do I necessarily fault any individual MnSCU employee or official for bargaining strenuously for the best compensation package possible.

"A hearing will help determine the extent to which greater oversight, transparency and reform are necessary."

In an email to constituents later in the day, Rep. Atkins explained he's not looking to "point fingers,"   but "to raise the question of whether a system that would allow such sizeable payments requires greater oversight and transparency."

Rep. Nornes, who as chairman would call such a hearing, could not be reached for comment Friday. House Republican Caucus spokesperson Jodi Boyne said Nornes, "will review the request."

UPDATE: The chairman of the House Higher Education Committee on Monday declined a lawmaker's request to hold hearings on the $32 million in payouts to departing employees by the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system. (11/28/11).  Read more.

Watch the 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS Investigation, Cashing Out.