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Friday, September 09, 2005

Special session per diems

The Pioneer Press says that so far, lawmakers have received $136,000 in per diem money for the special session. 39 out of 67 senators had put in their papers for the money, as well as 63 out of 134 House members, although the latter number may increase, since House members have more time to file. Two thirds of the money has been claimed by DFLers, which I find to be disappointing.

Per diems for leadership was not really a surprise. The only leader who got per diems was House Speaker Steve Sviggum, who has a history of never passing up an opportunity to get a per diem. None of the other leaders (Dean Johnson, Dick Day, or Matt Entenza) got the money. Now, I understand that Sviggum is a farmer and the crops have to be put in and lost revenue and all that, but that doesn't seem to bother anybody else. Dean Johnson is a sower of seeds for the Lord and tries to reap a crop of righteous men and women, and he doesn't seem to need a per diem.

Another person who seems to need the money is Republican Tom Emmer, whom I like less and less. I wouldn't shed a tear if he decided that the financial sacrifices of being a legislator caused him to retire next year.

All in all, I think there needs to be some changes to the per diem system. Metro legislators shouldn't get anything, or should be limited to a small ($10 a session day) meal stipend. Hey, there's a McDonald's just around the corner. Outstate legislators already get a housing allowance in addition to their per diems, but the per diem itself should be based on actual mileage and a higher food stipend to take into account that they have to stock their temporary living quarters with something to live on. Legislators have to get there and eat, but aside from that, not many workers in this state get extra money from their employers just for showing up.

26 Comments:

At 10:57 AM, September 10, 2005, Blogger North Star Politics said...

Not many employees in Minnesota make laws, either. While the per-diem system may not be perfect, it's not fair to compare legislators to burger flippers in terms of pay. Legislators have a unique job, one for which they're already undercompensated for. Without a doubt, this is one of the reasons why we have such a crummy legislature.

 
At 3:27 PM, September 12, 2005, Blogger Kevin from Minneapolis said...

People also don't realize that aside from not being able to accept gifts over $5, if a legislator goes to, say a chamber of commerce luncheon for example, and receives food, he or she is likely required to pay back the cost of food. You wouldn't believe it, but that does actually add up and seeing how it is the John Marty law that requires this, I think per diem is only fair.

Also, remember that most legislators, even the metro ones, were putting in 100+ hour work weeks for several months this year. and they do not get paid overttime.

 
At 3:50 PM, September 12, 2005, Blogger Northern Debater said...

I think you also neglect the fact that legislator's get next to nothing and most if not all are taking significant pay cuts in order to be legislators...

For example any of them that are lawyers, cannot practice law for roughly 6 months...which means in all, they are probably not making much more then 30,000 for the rest of the year, if that, because of the small opportunities to get clients and see a case all the way through.

Perhapes the per-diem system could be altered to punish those who hold out rather then every legislator? Because the govenor was the one responsible for the holdover, yet he doesn't have to take a pay cut... how about taking part of the money from his salary?

 
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