ST. PAUL, Minn. - The chairman of the independent council that approved $14,000 raises for Minnesota lawmakers says lawyers will have to decide whether Republican House Speaker Kurt Daudt can block the pay increase.
Minnesota voters created the Legislative Salary Council through a November constitutional amendment that removed lawmakers' ability to set their own pay. That council on Friday affirmed its decision to raise salaries from roughly $31,000 to $45,000 in July.
“I’ve said for a couple years, that I support legislators getting a pay increase, and I think the commission to enormous credit acted very responsibly,” said Governor Mark Dayton. “People want to play politics with it, that is their prerogative, within the limits of the law, I don’t know what that is.”
But Daudt said this week that he'll block the first legislative pay increase since 1999, raising constitutional questions.
“House Republicans are working hard to pass common-sense policies aimed at growing good-paying jobs for Minnesotans," said Speaker Daudt. "Middle-class families’ needs must come first – tax relief, lower health care costs, improved roads and bridges, and strong schools. We are choosing not to fund the Council’s recommendation to increase salaries for members of the House."
Chairman Tom Stinson says the dispute may head to the courts but the council won't be involved. He says he didn't consider decreasing the size of the raise to make it more palatable to lawmakers scared of voter backlash.
"Our job was to come up with a number and we've done that, now the lawyers can take over," said Stinson.