Six of 13 area lawmakers filed paperwork to cut off their pay during the state government shutdown.
At 46 percent, the percentage of south-central Minnesotan lawmakers declining to be paid outpaced the rate in the Legislature overall. Statewide, just 32 percent of the 201 lawmakers chose to sacrifice their pay during the shutdown, which has laid off 22,000 state employees and as many as 10,000 construction laborers and other private sector workers with state contracts.
Two of the six area lawmakers — Sens. Kathy Sheran, DFL-Mankato, and Gary Dahms, R-Redwood Falls — submitted the paperwork too late to get their July 1 check stopped. But Sheran said she will be sending the money back to the state and Dahms plans to donate his to a local charity. Their August paychecks, if the shutdown continues past this month, won’t be issued.
Lawmakers, who earn $31,000 a year, receive one-twelfth of their pay at the beginning of each month. They can also collect per diems of $77 to $84 each day, although those have been eliminated for all lawmakers during the shutdown.
Sheran and Dahms said the paperwork required to stop their July paychecks was submitted the last week in June.
“That was too late, apparently, for them to get it turned around,” Sheran said. “I’ll just have to issue a check back to the state for it.”
Dahms said he’s decided to contribute his post-taxes July salary to Service Enterprises Inc., a Redwood Falls nonprofit that provides jobs, job training and job coaching for people with disabilities.
“I just don’t need people to think I’m doing this for the paycheck,” Dahms said. “That’s not my purpose for being in the Senate. If others aren’t being paid, I won’t be either.”
Lawmakers who chose not to be paid in July were Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Fairmont, Rep. Kathy Brynaert, DFL-Mankato; Rep. Tony Cornish, R-Good Thunder; and Rep. Terry Morrow, DFL-St. Peter.
Lawmakers who accepted their July pay were Sen. Al DeKruif, R-Elysian; Sen. Mike Parry, R-Waseca; Rep. Glenn Gruenhagen, R-Glencoe; Rep. Bob Gunther, R-Fairmont; Rep. Rod Hamilton, R-Mountain Lake; Rep. Kory Kath, DFL-Owatonna; and Rep. Paul Torkelson, R-St. James.
According to payroll offices in the state House and Senate, 62 Minnesota state lawmakers deferred their July 1 paycheck as the state government shutdown got under way, and three others attempted to but missed the deadline.
Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton is also declining his paycheck during the shutdown, as are Republican House Speaker Kurt Zellers and Republican Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch.
— This story includes information from The Associated Press.