The total number goes beyond salary
Before raising the compensation of state legislators, there should be consideration of “total compensation.” It is far more than $31,140 per year. Per diems of $66 for House members and $86 for Senate members are available just for the claiming — no receipts, no documentation at all.
They can be claimed seven days a week during the regular session. There is also state-paid health insurance, year-round. There is a 6 percent state pension contribution. During the regular session, per diem payments count toward pension benefits. Retired legislators can go on and off the state health insurance plan, to enhance coverage when needed and reduce premium payments when not needed, something not allowed for other retirees in the plan.
Before increasing compensation, let’s have an open, honest appraisal of what it is currently, and not just the salary component.
Chester Rorvig, St. Cloud
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We see the problem; what’s the response?
I welcomed the thoughtful editorial “On autopilot, at taxpayers’ expense” (March 11). It makes a number of disturbing points about how the state’s Medicaid program has been conducted for the past 10 years, but there are still a couple of fundamental questions unasked.
Eight of those years were under a Republican administration, and the last two have been under a DFL administration, yet there have been no significant changes. It has taken public outcry and a federal lawsuit to focus attention on the abuses of the health insurance companies.
Are not both major parties being held hostage by a powerful private industry? Do we not need to challenge the two-party system and the money poured into elections to achieve honest regulation?
Also unquestioned is the assumption that “managed care” lowers costs. The experience of the last couple of decades shows exactly the reverse. Yet we continue to accept a system of payment, otherwise known as “capitation,” that veils the actual charge for medical services and assumes that health “outcomes” can be weighed, measured and graded like any other commodity.
Rhoda R. Gilman, St. Paul
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The tone of complacency in the editorial was telling. The use of the elegant phrase “state officials also inexplicably failed to exercise their authority” indicates to me apathy about expecting officials to take responsibility to recover the millions of taxpayer dollars held by Minnesota HMOs.
Ho-hum, state officials should let the bygones of millions of taxpayer money be bygones … there’s just no use in demanding that fiscally conservative Democrats do their jobs … righting the wrong by retrieving the funds is way too much to expect. The whole Medicaid affair was merely years of shoddy management and poor bookkeeping. No need to rescue that missing treasure for the benefit of Minnesotans here and now.
The Opinion section is produced by the Editorial Department to foster discussion about key issues. The Editorial Board represents the institutional voice of the Star Tribune and operates independently of the newsroom.