ST. PAUL -- Minnesota Republicans are criticizing Gov. Mark Dayton for authorized nearly $80,000 in severance payments to three top officials who resigned from his administration.

Dayton provided the severance packages to former Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development Commissioners Mark Phillips and Katie Clark Sieben, as well as Director of Higher Education Services Sheila Wright. Each severance package equaled approximately three months of their pay.

State Rep. Sarah Anderson said she's never heard of political appointees receiving severance, and claims the move violates taxpayer trust. Anderson said she will push to limit severance packages for political appointees in the next legislative session.

State finance officials say the severance payouts were legal and managed through existing department budgets.