ST. PAUL, Minn.- A citizen council decided to significantly increase the Minnesota House pay after years of stagnation. Now that the lawsuit between Kurt Daudt and two representatives is over, the House will finally receive this pay.
The pay increase is around 45 percent, with lawmakers salaries being raised from $31,100 to $45,000. This increase strongly took into consideration the inflation that has occurred since the last pay level was set.
One of the big concerns, according to a Pioneer Press interview, was per diem expenses. While the actual pay of lawmakers hasn’t gone up since 1999, the per diem, allocated amount for lawmakers to spend on a daily basis, has. For House members, per diem is now set at $66, while in the Senate it is set higher at $86. Per diem is only allowed during the legislative session.
Previously, like in most states, the legislature was directly responsible for regulating their pay. However, a Minnesota constitutional amendment, voted on during the November 2016 election, gave the power of deciding legislators’ pay to an independent council, the Legislative Salary Council. The council was comprised of both Democrats and Republicans, whom were picked by Governor Mark Dayton and Minnesota Supreme Court Chief Justice Lorie Gildea.
Not everyone was in favor of these pay raises, including House Speaker, Kurt Daudt.
“I know that members have a huge sacrifice to serve here. I do myself. I also can’t ask people to take a politically sensitive vote to raise their own pay,” Daudt said, according to CBS.
While the increased pay was supposed to start in July, Daudt instructed the House comptroller to pay representatives at the old amount.
However, two representatives, Reps. Marion O’Neill (R-Maple Lake) and Rena Moran (DFL-St. Paul) filed a lawsuit against Daudt. The lawsuit alleges that Daudt, “violated a clear legal duty” by not paying the higher salary. Daudt relented on the grounds that the continuation of the lawsuit would be wasting taxpayer dollars.
Members of the Minnesota House will now be paid at the $45,000 salary rate for the month of August.