Do you have any idea how much the Minnesota Legislature wants to give itself a pay raise? This shameful act of both greed and duplicity must be stopped by the citizens. It will be a steep, uphill battle against those in positions of power. I give thanks that the 2016 elections proved how the voters are ultimately in control.
First, a word about greed in government. This massive pay raise will cost millions of dollars that should not be spent to feather the nests of our politicians. Furthermore, the timing of this pay raise should be seen in context. It comes on the heels of revelations of shocking corruption among Gov. Mark Dayton’s appointees who mismanaged the Vikings stadium. Taken together, these issues are turning state government into its own smelly swamp, just like Washington.
A charge of duplicity should also be added. Several elected officials have claimed that they are constitutionally obligated to profit from this new windfall. What a load of intellectually dishonest rubbish! Let this be perfectly clear: nothing — absolutely nothing — in Article XI, Section One of our state Constitution (requiring lawful appropriations to spend state dollars) has changed in decades. The much-discussed 2016 constitutional amendment [creating a citizens panel to set legislative pay] did not come within a country mile of touching any of the language in Article XI.
Therefore, constitutionally, the Legislature still has the full and unencumbered power to appropriate money for this pay raise — or to not appropriate money for this pay raise. They should use that power to plainly block any taxpayer money for this nefarious purpose.
The grass roots are coming alive over this issue. If the House and Senate majority caucuses have any question about this, they should direct their attention to the Republican Party of Minnesota’s Central Committee meeting in April. More than 325 Central Committee delegates from across the state will have an opportunity to be heard on this issue. I have a fairly good estimate of what they will clearly and loudly say. The delegates will then identify legislators who vote to drain the swamp as a Friend of the Taxpayer, and legislators who vote to line their own pockets as an Enemy of the Taxpayer.
For those who legitimately wonder about the difficult life of a senator or a representative, some creative thinking is in order. I was honored to serve in the Senate for four years, and in each of those years, five months of my life were devoted to the business of government at the State Capitol. To be sure, I worked with many good people, and I am willing to stipulate that my many successors in office are also good people. This battle doesn’t have to be personal.
But if anyone truly believes the current salary is too low for the current amount of work, I have a much better idea than spending more taxpayer money. Simply put, legislators could easily do all of their work in two months instead of five. This would bring Minnesota in line with many other truly part-time legislatures across the country.
Finally, and without any facetiousness, I am contemplating forming a new advocacy organization: Minnesotans Against Government Avarice. Yes, the acronym will be MAGA! I might potentially serve as the lowly staff spokesman and legal counsel. But here is the more significant opportunity. Would House Speaker Kurt Daudt or Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka care to sign up as an honorary director of MAGA? The door is open.
If they successfully lead their members to a miraculous rejection of the proposed pay raise, it might even pave the way for one of them to be elected governor in 2018. I hope they will choose their job options wisely.
Brian LeClair, of Woodbury, was a member of the Minnesota Senate, 2003-2007, and was a district chairman of the 2016 Trump for President campaign in Minnesota.