MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The Minnesota Legislature is expected Monday to start debating the funding for a 45 percent pay raise for lawmakers.
But now House Speaker Kurt Daudt says that discussion will not take place until later in the Legislative session.
The pay hike is the direct result of a constitutional amendment supported by 76 percent of Minnesota voters last year.
Still, the pay increase has taken many taxpayers by surprise and is resulting in an angry backlash.
Minnesota’s part-time legislators are currently payed $31,000 a year, and they average another $7,000 in per diem payments.
When voters last year overwhelmingly backed a constitutional amendment stripping lawmakers of the ability to give themselves a pay hike, many voters may have missed the fine print.
The amendment set up a 16-member citizen panel that would set lawmakers’ pay. It was that panel that voted 13-1 last week to give legislators their first pay increase in nearly two decades.
The increase is significant – 45 percent, to $45,000.
Add per diems and the pay could average $52,000 for each part-time legislator.
Daudt says lawmaker might not be able to do much about the pay change.
“The initial reports that I am getting are that the Constitution trumps us, we may not have an ability to do anything — unfund this change — but we are going to look into the options,” the Republican lawmaker said on WCCO Sunday Morning.
The impact of any pay raise is compounded because Minnesota has one of the largest legislatures in the country, with 201 members in the state House and Senate.