Reality Check: Lawmakers Getting Paid Over Spring Break?

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(credit: CBS) Pat Kessler
Pat Kessler knows Minnesota politics. He's been on the beat long...
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ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — Minnesota lawmakers haven’t had a pay hike since 1999. But they can boost their take-home pay with per diem — up to $76 per day in the Minnesota House, and up to $86 a day in the Minnesota Senate.

At the top in the Senate during 2013, Democrat Ann Rest of New Hope, the chair of the Tax Reform Committee. She got $17,372 in per diem last year.

In the House, it’s Democrat Lyndon Carlson of Crystal, the chairman of the powerful Ways and Means Committee. He received $12,408 in 2013 per diem payments.

Lawmakers get per diem automatically — no receipts required, no questions asked.

They get it every day during the legislative session, even on weekends — even when they’re not physically at the Capitol.

And per diem payments are in addition to payments for lodging, travel and mileage.

Last year, state lawmakers got more than $1,901,133 in per diem.

That’s an average of nearly $9,458 per legislator. On top of their $31,140 annual salary.

Minnesota’s part-time pay and per diem is higher than many states, but lower than others.

Wisconsin pays lawmakers $49,943, plus $88 in per diem.

Illinois pays $67,836 and $111 in per diem.

And in California, Golden State lawmakers get $90,526 a year, plus $142 in per diem when they’re in session.

But some states pay very little. New Hampshire pays its lawmakers $200 for a two-year term, and no per diem at all.

How Much State Lawmakers Earn, Plus Per Diem
Senate Per Diem/Expenses (.pdf)
House Per Diem/Expenses (.pdf)

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