Insult to injury: Legislative staff gets 15.25% raise

Now we know where the surplus went — staff raises and member per diems.

Yesterday the House Rules Committee met and voted to increase their per diem payments from $66 per day to $86 per day. They also gave legislative staff raises of up to 15.25%.

While many Minnesotans won’t even receive the miserly $260 tax rebate, legislators and staff are using the surplus to pad their own pockets. They waited until session was over to hold a hastily-called meeting over Zoom, when most Minnesotans are still trying to digest everything that happened in the 2023 session.

The process was not transparent

  • The committee meeting was called and noticed at the last minute and documents weren’t shared with members until 10:00 pm the night before the vote.
  • The committee meeting was held in June after session was adjourned for the year and done over a Zoom meeting, not allowing the public a chance to attend.
  • As of this writing, the meeting next Tuesday in the Senate Rules Committee has not been publicly announced.

The per diem increase is a back door pay increase for legislators

  • The House raised their per diem $20 to match the Senate because in the words of House Majority Leader Jamie Long (DFL-Minneapolis), “We are not worth less than the Senate and should receive the same per diem rates.” So the per diem is based on relative worth, not how much a legislator needs to cover expenses.
  • The per diem increase is retroactive to January of 2023.
  • All members of the legislature receive per diem, even those who live in the metro area. Since they also receive stipends for housing, transportation and communication, the per diem is ostensibly for meals. Why do taxpayers subsidize metro members for breakfast, lunch and dinner to the tune of $86 per day? Can’t they pack a lunch like the rest of us?
  • Legislators also receive up to $200 per month for a communication stipend, originally put in place to cover the extra phone line needed to operate a fax machine. Do legislators still have fax machines at home or is this just more back-door compensation?
  • Legislator pay is decided by the Legislative Salary Council who recently raised pay by 7.25% to $51,750 per year.

Legislative staff got a huge raise

  • All legislative staff will receive a $1500 increase to their base salaries. The justification given for the across-the-board increase was the rate of inflation. The irony here is unbelievable. Legislators and staff enact policies in the 2023 session to increase costs for Minnesotans such as gas tax increases and delivery fees, then use those cost increases to justify more compensation for members and staff, paid for by the taxpayers.
  • In addition to the $1500 bump in pay, all legislative employees will receive a 9.25% increase in pay. Employees will also be eligible for another increase up to 4% for merit, decided by their supervisor.
  • That means some legislative employees will receive raises as large as 15.25% when you include the $1500, the 9.25% and the 4% increases.
  • Now that session is over, most legislative employees are eligible for weeks of comp time to compensate them for overtime worked during session. The comp time is in addition to a generous vacation and sick time accrual policy.

They are raising their own pay because they think no one is watching. You can weigh in by sending a quick email to the members of the Senate Rules Committee ahead of their June 13, 2023 vote (it’s too late in the House).

As always, American Experiment makes this very easy.