ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — The Minnesota House today put off a vote to set aside millions of dollars for raising legislative pay.
That move comes three days after a State Capitol salary commission recommended a very big pay hike for lawmakers from $31,141 to about $45,000 a year. They haven’t had a pay hike since 1999.
Even so, an independent decision to award a 45 percent pay increase is raising eyebrows.
“That is scheduled to take effect July 1,” Republican Minnesota House Speaker Kurt Daudt said. “We’re not sure if we even have an option to defund it it or not, but we’ll be looking into seeing if that is an option.”
Lawmakers are getting a pay hike after voters made it possible — 76 percent of Minnesota voters approved a constitutional amendment last fall. It puts the politically sensitive issue in the hands of an independent council, which took into account long hours and low pay, and awarded a $14,000 pay hike.
In fact, Minnesota lawmaker salary and per diem is in the middle of the pack, nationally. In the upper Midwest, they’re paid more than Iowa ($25,000), more than South Dakota ($6,000) and more than North Dakota ($172/day). Wisconsin lawmakers get the most: $50,950. And that’s not including per diem.
On top of their salaries: Minnesota lawmakers get daily expense payments — $86 a day in the Senate, and $66 a day in the House — adding thousands of dollars to their paychecks. It’s a back-door pay hike that added an average $7,679 a year to lawmaker pay in the Senate in 2016, and an average $5,145 in the House.
Minnesota lawmakers would continue to receive per diem on top of their new $45,000 salary seven days a week when they are in session. No receipts required, and it counts toward their pensions.
Here are the full lists of per diem payments to Minnesota lawmakers:
House Representatives Expense Report (sorted from highest to lowest payments)
House Representatives Expense Report (sorted alphabetically by member)
Senators Expense Report (sorted from highest to lowest payments)