The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

April 18, 2013

Legislative pay raise criticized, defended

(Continued)

ST. PAUL —

She voted for the pay increases for two major reasons.

First, the bill also raises pay for commissioner-level state employees, on whom Sheran said the public relies for good government at the highest levels. When the Commerce Department negotiates with insurance companies looking to get on the state-run marketplace, for example, Sheran said the public should want the state to afford a commissioner who’s as effective as the insurers’ CEOs.

Also, Sheran said, the current legislative salary isn’t enough to support a family, so legislators end up being predominantly retired or wealthy.

The raise doesn’t take effect until 2015, but if the measure gets signed into law it’s easy to imagine the attack ads Democrats will face in the fall of 2014. The law’s passage, though, isn’t nearly a sure thing. The Star Tribune and others have reported that House DFL leadership isn’t keen on the increase, though Senate leaders will push to include it in a compromise bill. Minnesota Public Radio has reported the governor supports the pay increase.

Apparently understanding that the bill may enact a political toll on Democrats, Sheran said its passage takes “strength and leadership.”

Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Fairmont, said it was eay for her to vote “no.”

“I just don’t think it’s the right time,” she said. ... “We need to step back and look at what our priorities are.”

In response to the argument that legislators deserve higher pay, she asked “When is it enough? What is the break point?”

She said she may support such an increase when the economy improves and other government accountability measures are in place.

If the measure passes, Rosen said she would attempt to donate her increase to charity.

 

This story was corrected to change references to the Senate version of the bill, which does not include any appropriations for gambling addiction.

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