Will Lawmakers Give Up Paychecks If MN Shuts Down?

ST. PAUL (WCCO) — It’s the question that is making Minnesota legislators squirm: Will they take a paycheck if state government shuts down on July 1?

If Republican legislators and Gov. Mark Dayton can’t reach an agreement on the budget by June 30, approximately 36,000 state workers would be laid off in a shutdown.

Dayton says he won’t take a paycheck in the event of a shutdown. However, some legislative leaders aren’t saying right now whether or not they will or will decline to cash their checks.

Across party lines, legislators are struggling with the paycheck issue. In a shutdown, Republican Senate Majority leader Amy Koch will say no to her paycheck.

“I have already announced that I won’t be, but that is my decision. I think you are going to see both Republicans and Democrats — some will, some won’t,” said Koch.

However, Koch’s position is in direct contrast to Speaker of the House Kurt Zellers.

According to Zellers, anyone who’s talking about not taking a salary before a shutdown even happens is calling it quits on negotiations.

“I just think it presupposes that there will be a shutdown. I think that is just giving up on negotiations. I am not willing to give up on negotiations. I think there is a lot that we can do,” Zellers said.

WCCO-TV caught up with the Republican leaders after an appearance on Minnesota Public Radio’s Midday show in which one caller, Kevin, blasted lawmakers who would still take their paychecks

“I think if you were really concerned about the budget and the people of Minnesota, you yourselves would take no pay until the budget is balanced,” Kevin said.

Legislators are paid $31,000 a year plus per diem during the legislative session.

“For some folks, perhaps it’s easier than others. There are some members who are not multi-millionaires,” said Koch.

Democrats are also feeling the pressure.

Majority Leader Sen. Tom Bakk is agreeing with Zellers, saying it’s premature to decide whether he will take a paycheck.

Minority Leader Paul Thissen sees it differently.

“We have decided to let each member decide how they are going to handle it on their own. I have personally decided not to take a salary during the shutdown,” said Thissen.

The leaders in both parties are leaving it up to individual members.

This is all public record. So, if there is a shutdown, anyone will be able to find out who did or did not get paid.

During a partial shutdown in 2005, it looks like legislators of both parties did get paid.

More from Esme Murphy
  • Bill

    Of course Dayton should not get a paycheck. His job is to sign the balanced budget the legislature sent him and he isn’t doing it.

    • Tony

      Zellers explained today how he was way under paid. Said he was only paid 31 thousand a year. Guess he forgot to say he made another 14 thousand in tax free money. Guess he forgot to tell us he is claiming 76 dollars a day of tax free money even now. The basic greed of Zeller’s is disgusting.

      • KeepItReal

        Tony is a simpleton…even the liberal-biased article said that per-diems are only paid during the legislative session. Is math that difficult?

        • Tony

          You get the dunce hat for the day. Read the law
          “A member of the legislature in addition to the compensation and mileage otherwise provided by law shall be reimbursed for living and other expenses incurred in the performance of duties or engaging in official business during a regular or special session and when the legislature is NOT in session in the manner and amount prescribed by the senate Committee on Rules and Administration for senators and by the house of representatives Committee on Rules and Legislative Administration for house of representatives members.”

      • jimmy

        So Zellers will make 40-50 thousand dollars for his 5 month part time job. Wait a minute that’s more money than most greedy state workers make in a entire year. Well Zellers must know greed when he sees it.

    • Matt

      just because it was balanced doesn’t mean it was any good.

      just like if you would balance your budget but leave out the things you need to live.

      • Bill

        It increases spending by 2 billion.

        Yet, inexplicably, you choose to ignore that fact. Typical liberal drone.

        It should be cutting the size of government, not growing it. That is how we got in this mess.

        • Brian

          Actually, your buddy T-Paw got us into this mess with his “no new taxes” b.s. You think a democratic governor is supposed to clean up his mess in 5 mos. in office? A mess T-Paw took 8 years making? Get real…

        • Bart

          Bill, look up the phrase “changing demographics”. The number of residents in MN increases, the number of people moving into the senior groupings and starting to take age-related funds. The budget is not static as the Republicans try to make it. And I’m sure if Democrats sent budget bills loaded with social policy changes, you would expect those to be vetoed – right?

          Think people!!! Republican ad states their budget would not increase taxes. Under T-flaw my property taxes went from $1000/yr to over $3600. 300+ % Did they pass a property tax bill? No, but the cuts they caused simply created a tax payment shift. Bill, look at your own property tax statements over the last 8 years. What do you see? Oh- mom & dad’s address. :-(

  • betty

    Oh, so his job is the same as Pawlenty’s was?

    • Political Party Pawn

      Well, if you blamed Pawlenty, to be consistent, you better damn well blame Dayton!

  • Ian Towne

    I think if the memebers of the legislator are asking others to no get paid during a possible shutdown, they should forfiet their pay also. Secondly, you were elected to get the job done within the time limit you are given and you did NOT! I think you should not get any pay or any pay retro-actively when you fail the job you were elected to do. No state employee should be paid for any time that they are not working. That might help out the budget probelms a little. Myabe during the next session you will do the things you were elected to do. That goes for all of you no matter your party affiliation!

  • dirtyrepublicanfilth

    Dirty republican filth.

    • dirtydemocratfilth

      In 2005 when democrats controlled the legislature…Dirty democrat filth?

      • Matt

        you seem to forgot T-Paw

  • Joan L

    I am not as concerned with the legislators getting paid as I am with their staff. The work of the legislative aids is not critical to the health of any individual in the state, nor is it their work to vote on legislation. Let them be laid off also.

    • sutton

      Amy Koch said she will not take Per Diem. Did she say anything about the 900 dollars a month the state pays her to keep a crib in St Paul. Seems the state pays her a living expense for living over 50 miles from the Capital. Of course we know all the people that drive from Buffalo to the cities get 900 dollars of tax free money.

  • no way

    Typically when someone doesn’t do the job the job they WERE hired to do…they get fired. No work, no pay.

    • KeepItReal

      So that means that 1/2 the state workers should not be paid either…most of them don’t do anything anyway.

      • Harvey

        Proof, or more bs from someone who knows little.

      • KeepitUnreal

        KeepItReal, didn’t you earlier call someone a simpleton & then you make this kind of a remark? Wow…..no really….wow….what a truely small mind you have

  • Lawmakers

    The article is about lawmakers and legislators getting paychecks not about the all state workers

  • MrB

    Lock them all up and throw away the key until they get something done, I don’t care if you are a dem, rep or ind you should write your legislator and tell them they should be embarrassed!

  • theyareallfullofit

    I love watching you people moan and complain about the other. They are both at fault neither one of them are doing anything to help US out. I don’t care who you are for, all of them are acting like children and your following suit blaming one over the other no wonder this we are in this state instead of bicketring get to work. I don’t want to hear oh its because of Dayton or its because of the Republicans its both. It will be a very hard to swallow all those lies when 2012 comes no matter what party says what. They are nothing but little children acting like five.

  • StraycatStrut

    A Democrat giving up a paycheck….? Odd…… Govenor must be a millionaire.

  • Citizen

    Today’s (Wed.6/22) article on the national CBS news website talks about California’s Proposition 25 which suspends the pay of the legislature unless the budget is balanced by June 15. The state’s controller is going to do just that much to the dismay of both Dems and Rethugs in California. Unfortunately, Minnesota does not allow Initiative and Referendum procedures, so we Minnesotans are stuck with paying our legislators while they do nothing. Good article, CBS!

    • Sue

      I read the same article and believe we should do that here, let’s put it on the ballot in 2012 for the people to vote just like the people in Calif. did and then see how well they get the budget done on time, rather then wasting their time on gay marriage and voter signature let the people vote on this, how do we get this started?

  • Citizen

    @Sue. We would have to convince a legislator to introduce the bill because Minnesota citizens cannot do it themselves using the Initiative and Referendum process. It would probably be a good time to try next year right after this latest budget crisis has played out and is fresh in voters’ minds.

    • @ citizen

      Why are you still posting garbage? You are doing nobody any favors spreading your socilist views. Why don’t you use your spare time to go volunteer at a food shelf or something. Oh I forgot, that would require YOU to do something and you would only want someone else to do it for you and then complain about it.

      • Citizen

        Also, @citizen. Not only do I volunteer, I am still working after retirement. I have to schedule time to irritate the likes of you with my posts. And I’m sure my tax dollars that I continue to pay in retirement are supporting you in some basement somewhere….

  • kevin


  • kevin

    Sue and Citizen, you want us to operate like California! We have a budget problem they have a bankrupcy problem. You two must be smokin some good stuff this morning.

  • Red Herring

    The story is a red herring. I don’t care about this.

  • Citizen

    @kevin, Red Herring & @@citizen. So, you three would rather keep paying your legislators while Minnesota is shut down? California won’t be paying their legislators during a shutdown. Isn’t paying someone to not work against the right-wing agenda? You three just want to fight with me because you can’t even articulate what you are for after you are against it. BTW, California’s deficit is less than twice Minnesota’s for a much bigger and wealthier state. But, again, California isn’t going to be paying their legislators if they go to shut down.

  • kevin

    Citizen, I’ll articulate for you my thoughts Take your socialist views and move to russia. You should do well there. And do’t tell me you have a different party affiliation. Your views are socialistic and progressive. TAX,TAX AND MORE TAX on the wealthy. What or who would you tax if the wealthy were as lazy as half of our welfare recipients.The other half I agree need our help.

    • Citizen

      @kevin. Just as a point of information. When was the last time you read about Russia and its economy? Russia hasn’t been a socialist economy for a few decades now. And right now your wealthy “friends” have the lowest income taxes in 80 years of taxation. They have NOTHING to complain about except perhaps they want to have ABSOLUTELY NO taxation. And, “progressive” is a positive term as opposed to “regressive” which is what your philosophy is.

  • Citizen

    @kevin. First of all, kevin, you don’t understand the meaning of the word socialism so I guess I’ll have to tell you. Socialism is when the state OWNS ALL the means of production (utilities, companies, stores, whatever), and then takes ALL the money from those and redistributes it. We have some socialism in the U.S. but, really very little when you understand the definition. But, since social security, medicare, workers’ compensation, unemployment compensation and the like are “socialistic” in a sense, please feel free to not collect any social security income, do not file for Medicare, and do not take any disability payments, workers’ comp payments, or unemployment compensation. All retirement income whether social security or a pension is a form of socialism. So you can only be a capitalist if you are working all the time. Do YOU fit that definition? Didn’t think so.

  • kevin

    Citizen, your missing the point.The idea of taxing just to spend more when the people that are paying the bills are continuly being asked to give more , and please don’t question gov spending we know what”s good for you attitude needs to end..This tax and spend mentality that the libs use is insane at best. It’s time for people to be responsible for there own actions and stop relying on everyone else to pay there way.The people on welfare that do not belong there are as addicted to free money as drug adicts are addicted to drugs.They need to be whined off. Stop being a facillatator is all I ask

  • kevin

    Citizen, when a lib uses the word “progressive” all it means is a redistibution of wealth nothing more .You remember the lyrics from an old song ” tax the rich til there are no rich no more” that’s progressive from a dems. point of viewq.

  • Ms Erica

    I think they all should give there checks up. For one if they work for the state isn’t there pay check coming from the state budget. If we all who have state jobs are not going to be getting our money they shouldn’t either they should have no say cuz we don’t

  • Our country

    I think our whole country is in the same mess as our state is! Everyone has problems and seem to be taking it out on the government…well, guess what? We elected these officials on matter if they are democrats or republicans….if you don’t like what you see, then vote them out! We are at fault just as much as the government is…WE VOTED THEM IN!! Now we have no say in the matter until the next election!!

  • Citizen

    Dayton not taken a pay check is the biggest joke of the year. What his net worth, that job is pocket change to him.

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