BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota spent $8.4 million this year on bonuses for some state workers, a record sum that was more than double paid out in 2020.

A little more than a third of the nearly 9,300 state employees received the bonuses, including several from Republican Gov. Doug Burgum’s office.

The bulk of bonuses paid to employees comes from agencies in the governor’s cabinet, records show. 

The Legislature approved the program in 1999 in an effort to reward, recruit and retain employees for hard-to-fill state jobs.

The program is drawing increased criticism because not all agencies give out bonuses.