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Legislator’s salary increase proposal needs further scrutiny [UPDATED]

Published 9:25am Friday, March 22, 2013 Updated 11:37am Friday, March 22, 2013

Minnesota State Law has established a Compensation Council to make recommendations for the salary of State Legislators. This panel has now recommended that the “salaries” for legislators go from the current $31,140 to $40,890 by 2015. Council member Bob Schroeder, a former chief of staff for Gov. Pawlenty, speaks in support of this increase.

Being the salaries have not been increased since 1998, such a move may seem to contain some merit. However, there is much more to the compensation of these legislators than the so called “salary.”

Consider: House members can receive $66 and Senate members can receive $86 for each day of the regular legislative session. These per diems can be claimed 7 days a week, even if members are not at work. The per diems payments require no receipts.

And to top it off, these per diems count toward the pensions of legislators.

Then they receive a 6 percent employer contribution toward their pensions. So how are these per diem payments not a part of the “salary” of legislators already?

Legislators also receive health care benefits, just like regular, full-time State employees who work year around.

But unlike all other State employees, retired legislators can go on and off the state insurance plan as they choose, so as to have major health care expense paid by the State (think taxpayers) and then go off the health plan when they do not need it(think not paying premiums). Other reimbursements are paid to legislators for mileage and lodging.

Our legislators need to be much more forthright, open, and yes, truthful, about the total compensation that they receive.

Stop hiding behind back door payments for per diems and earning pension benefits on these per diems, which can be claimed with no evidence of even doing any work to earn them.

The answer to the question of “What are our State Legislators paid”, is indeed very unclear, but perhaps that was the intent of those who made it such.

So the Compensation Council needs to take a much broader, a more accurate assessment, of the total compensation of State legislators than is presently the case.

 

Chester Rorvig

(Rothsay native)

St.Cloud

 

  • Elliot Dallavalle

    When the 2011 Republican legislature convened, one of the first items discussed and approved was regarding per diem and an additional increase for mileage. The Republican controlled legislature, after rebuking the increase in per diem by the previous legislature, immediately approved a mileage allotment for themselves. The previous legislature increase per diem by $10/day to offset the high cost of commuting (price of gas.) In addition, they approved for retirement purposes, the per diem they receive should be added on to their salary. What they didn’t do is pay for it. In effect, they nearly doubled their retirement salary but reduced their retirement contributions in half. Legislators pay 7% into their retirement account based on their salary, but per diem contributions are exempt. Not a bad gig from the republicans who controlled the legislature.

    And you thought the Republicans were fiscally responsible. Kind of falls inline with the tricks the State GOP used when financing their own party.

    • J Mullins

      Elliot, were things a little slow on the bluestream prairie blog, and so you decided to come over here and spread your poison?

      • Richard Olson

        Hey Elliot, you may or may not wish to excuse Jerome, while he has had nothing to say about the “Legislators Salary Increase” during it’s four days of publication, he seldom misses an opportunity to besmirch another persons opinion with supposed connections to any Liberal organ or, if he’s had a real bad day, to make believe affiliation with the dead Karl Marx and/or some form of Socialism or Communism.

        But for some reason you must have set off a fuse in his brain with a connection to Bluestem Prairie. A real boil on the butt of Jerome Mullins….see, sometime ago Bluestem Prairie caught Jerome and another tea bagger trying to run interference for former state senator Gretchen Hoffman by floating the rumor that she required police protection from all the union thugs accosting her in the halls of the state capitol.

        The problem was, there were no union thugs, no harassment, no accosting, no request for protection or escorts according to capitol police and another law enforcement agency and no one up here in little old Fergus Falls would have known about the scam until those big fat blabber mouths at Bluestem Prairie blew the whistle on Jerome. Don’t you just hate blabber mouths?

        • Elliot Dallavalle

          RO – Thanks for the update on Jerome. Now I would think he would be furious about the pevious republican legislature that approved this little deal regarding retirement, being a tea bagger. I thought tea baggers were against wasteful spending. Guess I was wrong, huh Jerome?

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