MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minnesota’s part-time lawmakers earn $45,500 a year.

They got a $14,000 raise in 2017, their first salary increase in years.

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But lawmakers also get a back-door pay hike every year that taxpayers don’t see, in the form of automatic daily expense payments called “per diem.” No receipts, no questions asked.

(credit: CBS)

Members of the House get $66 a day. In the Senate, it’s $86 seven days a week when the legislature is in session — even if they are actually at home and not physically meeting at the Capitol.

Per diem can be used for anything, but it’s not for legislative expenses. Lawmakers already get paid for mileage, communications, travel, and some get year-round housing.

Per diem is on top of that.

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In the House, last year’s average per diem was $5,811 — boosting lawmaker pay to $51,314.

In the Senate, $8,274 — raising the average Senate salary to $53,777.

Here’s the kicker: unlike every other part of state government, you cannot go online and find these numbers. You have to personally make a request to the House and Senate to see these.

That’s why we are posting them here so you can look it up yourself:

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  • 2018 Minnesota House Per Diem Expenses
  • 2018 Minnesota Senate Per Diem Expense
  • Here is another important source we used for this Reality Check:
    Minnesota Legislative Salary Council