ST. PAUL — Eighteen Minnesota House members who declined paychecks during last month's state government shutdown got their full salaries retroactively, the House payroll office said Monday.
Eleven Democrats and seven Republicans received shutdown pay averaging $1,600 after the 20-day closure, which threw 22,000 state employees out of work, interrupted services ranging from camping in state parks to driver's license exams and shut down road projects and some social services. State employees were eligible for unemployment at a fraction of their normal pay.
Rep. Terry Morrow, DFL-St. Peter, took the pay, but plans to repay at least part of it.
Morrow explained he is accepting pay for the post-shutdown period for “recovering my costs for legislative work in Washington D.C. in July, which primarily was to attend a higher education conference on student aid.”
He said a foundation paid some of his expense with he and his wife covering the rest and that he did not ask the state to reimbursement him for that trip.
He said after covering his out-of-pocket expenses he would return the remainder of his shutdown pay to the state.
In a statement, he said “This was the easiest way to do this from the state's perspective because I didn't know the expenses on July 1 (the conference started on July 14).”
Lawmakers were entitled to salaries when government closed for much of July, but about a third of the Legislature's 201 members told the payroll offices they didn't want to be paid. The Legislature continued operating during the shutdown, even though the Capitol and State Office Building were closed to the public. Until Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton gave up his call for higher income taxes two weeks into the shutdown, leading to a deal with Republican legislative leaders, there was little activity on the legislative calendar. Lawmakers continued constituent work and some held public meetings in their districts.
After the shutdown ended, the 18 House members took the option of receiving back pay. Another 32 state representatives followed through on a shutdown pay cut averaging $1,600, representing the amount they would have earned during the shutdown. The remaining 84 House members were paid normally during the shutdown.
Fourteen senators who declined shutdown pay didn't have the option of getting it retroactively.
"I worked the entire time. I actually worked overtime," said Rep. Steve Drazkowski, R-Mazeppa, who said he deferred his paycheck until after the shutdown "out of respect for the process and others that were being laid off during that time."
Drazkowski estimated that he put in 12- to 15-hour days during the shutdown, even though he didn't serve on any of the working groups hammering out specific budget details after Republican legislative leaders and Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton reached a budget deal two weeks into the shutdown.
Rep. Ryan Winkler, DFL-Golden Valley, was critical of Republican House leaders who took shutdown pay — before he got a full retroactive paycheck for July.
Winkler said Monday he missed a deadline for paperwork to follow through on the pay cut and would seek a 50 percent cut in his next House paycheck.
"It was an oversight that I didn't follow up afterward," Winkler said.
He added: "My plan was to basically treat myself the same way that state employees were treated. I should not have taken all of it."
Others gave away at least some of their retroactive shutdown pay. A spokeswoman for House Democrats said several Democrats donated some or all to causes ranging from local schools to social services. A House GOP spokesman said several Republicans also reported donating some or all of the money. The House payroll office doesn't track what members do with the paychecks once they get them.
State employees laid off during the shutdown weren't eligible for back pay under agreements between their unions and the state government. Minnesota Management and Budget spokesman John Pollard said the budget enacted last month didn't give state workers back pay, and any such move would require legislative approval.
Unemployment for laid-off state workers was 50 percent or less of their normal pay.
A spokeswoman for the second-largest state employee union, the Minnesota Association of Professional Employees, called the back pay "reprehensible."
"They can't work together to solve the problems facing Minnesota," said MAPE spokeswoman Leslie Sandberg. "They shut down our government, they put 23,000 public employees — they laid them off and they're not getting back pay. And yet in the summertime when no one's looking they're taking back pay."
Eliot Seide, who heads the largest state employees union, said it was "hypocritical" for both Democrats and Republicans to take shutdown pay retroactively.
"I think on both sides of the aisle it's a wrong thing to do," said Seide, who heads the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 5.
Below are the Minnesota House lawmakers who took shutdown pay retroactively and those who took a shutdown pay cut.
Took shutdown pay retroactively:
Rep. Paul Anderson, R-Starbuck
Rep. Joe Atkins, DFL-Inver Grove Heights
Rep. Roger Crawford, R-Mora
Rep. Denise Dittrich, DFL-Champlin
Rep. Steve Drazkowski, R-Mazeppa
Rep. Pat Garofalo, R-Farmington
Rep. Mindy Greiling, DFL-Roseville
Rep. Sheldon Johnson, DFL-St. Paul
Rep. Phyllis Kahn, DFL-Minneapolis
Rep. Carolyn Laine, DFL-Columbia Heights
Rep. Jenifer Loon, R-Eden Prairie
Rep. Terry Morrow, DFL-St. Peter
Rep. Joe Mullery, DFL-Minneapolis
Rep. Kim Norton, DFL-Rochester
Rep. Peggy Scott, R-Andover
Rep. Linda Slocum, DFL-Richfield
Rep. Chris Swedzinski, R-Ghent
Took no pay for the 20 days of shutdown:
Rep. Tom Anzelc, DFL-Balsam Township
Rep. John Benson, DFL-Minnetonka
Rep. Kurt Bills, R-Rosemount
Rep. Kathy Byrnaert, DFL-Mankato
Rep. Lyn Carlson, DFL-Crystal
Rep. Tony Cornish, R-Good Thunder
Rep. Connie Doepke, R-Orono
Rep. Keith Downey, R-Edina
Rep. Sondra Erickson, R-Princeton
Rep. Andrew Falk, DFL-Murdock
Rep. Steve Gottwalt, R-St. Cloud(asterisk)
Rep. David Hancock, R-Bemidji
Rep. Melissa Hortman, DFL-Brooklyn Park
Rep. Debra Kiel, R-Crookston
Rep. Kate Knuth, DFL-New Brighton
Rep. Ann Lenczewski, DFL-Bloomington
Rep. Tina Liebling, DFL-Rochester(asterisk)
Rep. Diane Loeffler, DFL-Minneapolis
Rep. Kathy Lohmer, R-Lake Elmo
Rep. Tim Mahoney, DFL-St. Paul
Rep. Pat Mazorol, R-Bloomington
Rep. Carolyn McElfatrick, R-Deer River
Rep. Carol McFarlane, R-White Bear Lake
Rep. Erin Murphy, DFL-St. Paul
Rep. Mary Murphy, DFL-Hermantown
Rep. Richard Murray, R-Albert Lea
Rep. Michael Paymar, DFL-St. Paul
Rep. Bev Scalze, DFL-Little Canada
Rep. Steve Simon, DFL-St. Louis Park
House Minority Leader Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis
Rep. John Ward, DFL-Brainerd
Rep. Doug Wardlow, R-Eagan
(asterisk)Gottwalt and Liebling weren't on the original list of House members declining shutdown pay, but the House payroll office said they will have future paychecks reduced a corresponding amount.
Taking 50 percent pay for the shutdown:
Rep. Ryan Winkler, DFL-Golden Valley