- Associated Press - Thursday, June 30, 2016

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Minnesota voters will be asked this fall whether state lawmakers should be setting their own salaries, or whether those decisions should be made by an independent citizens commission.

DFL Sen. Kent Eken is one legislator who believes lawmakers should not be voting on their own compensation. Eken says “it feels wrong” and that objectivity is in question.

The constitutional amendment voters will consider establishes a citizens board to set the lawmakers salary every two years. The governor and the Minnesota Supreme Court chief justice would appoint the members of the citizens council, which would be split between the two major political parties.

Eken said taking the decision out of the hands of lawmakers could lead to an increase in salary.

Minnesota Public Radio (https://bit.ly/29c5p58 ) reports there hasn’t been a change to their base salary of about $31,000 since 1999. A survey by the National Conference of State Legislatures ranks Minnesota 19th in base pay for legislators among the 39 states that provide an annual salary.

State Sen. Torrey Westrom opposes the bill.

“I think the concern is that voters will see it as a way to say ‘no’ to pay raises or what they might perceive as pay raises for legislators,” Westrom said. “But if they vote for the amendment, they will actually be voting to put this in a third-party’s hands, making it probably easier for pay raises to go through.”

Bob Schroeder served on the state compensation council when it recommended in 2013 that legislator pat be calculated based on the governor’s paycheck. The recommendation would have paid lawmakers one-third of the governor’s salary, or nearly $43,000 currently. Schroeder said he sensed that it would be a tough sell.

“Legislating comes with a double-edged sword. It’s hard, time consuming work. But the compensation may not competitively match the effort involved,” he said. “Every candidate should know that when they decide to run for office. It’s called public service, not self-service.”


Information from: Minnesota Public Radio News, https://www.mprnews.org

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