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Local Lawmakers Weigh-In on Pay Raises

March 17, 2017 06:47 PM

(ABC 6 News) -- The members of the Legislative Salary Council voted unanimously to give Minnesota legislators a 45% salary increase, Friday afternoon. Minnesotans voted in favor of creating the commission in November 2016.

"There was a constitutional amendment and people voted quite overwhelmingly for this commission to come together and make the decision about what the pay should be for legislators," Rep. Jeanne Poppe (DFL - Austin) said.  

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That vote took away legislators' responsibility to set their own pay, and put it in the hands of a council to determine what to do.

"So it continues to be political football," Poppe said.

On Thursday, Speaker of the House Kurt Daudt called for the House to shoot down the increase and not appropriating the money needed for it.

"I agree with speaker doubt that we should put a hold on this, and say 'don't raise legislator pay right now,’" Rep. Peggy Bennett (R - Albert Lea) said.  

Bennet told ABC 6 News they should focus on other, big picture, issues that Minnesota faces.

"[Use money towards] better paying jobs in Minnesota, to fund things like roads and bridges and education," Bennett said.

However, Poppe said the point of the council was to ensure fair wages were set, rather than legislators setting it for themselves.

"Now it's become again a political issue where the idea behind having a commission and having it go through a constitutional amendment was to get the politics out of it," Poppe said.

Bennett agrees that legislative pay is an important topic to address, but it should up to the people of Minnesota.

"Whether or not it should be raised or not, is something that the taxpayers should truly decide," Bennett said.

But now that the council is on the verge of submitting their final report, legislators may be constitutionally obligated to take the raise.

The full 60-page report will be submitted soon. It would raise lawmaker salaries from $31,000 to $45,000 per year.


Credits

Elise Romas

Copyright 2017 - KAAL-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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