BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota spent $3.7 million last fiscal year on bonuses for some state workers, which is less than half the record amount paid out the previous year.

The state’s top budget writer says the drop was due in part to increased criticism about the bonuses. Only about a fifth of nearly 7,800 state employees received bonuses in the past fiscal year.

The bonus program was approved by the Legislature in 1999 in an effort to reward, recruit and retain employees for hard-to-fill state jobs. The head of the public employee union says the bonuses aren’t fair and are bad for morale.