By one vote, Minnesota Senate passes measure raising lawmakers' pay
- Blog Post by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger
- April 16, 2013 - 7:52 PM
By one vote, the Minnesota Senate on Tuesday passed a measure raising pay for future lawmakers, the governor and commissioners.
The final vote was 34-32, with several DFL members voting against the bill.
Despite some debate on other provisions in the bill, which funds state government, senators did not publicly discuss the pay raises during Senate discussion on the floor.
"It is the majority's job to put up 34 votes for a bill and we did that," said Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk. He said that his caucus met for some time to discuss the measure and even considered offering a move to strip the pay raise provision out of the measure.
"It is never easy to vote to raise your own pay," Bakk said.
Along with all Republicans, five Democrats voted against the measure. DFL Sens. Susan Kent, Vicki Jensen, Kevin Dahle, John Hoffman and Greg Clausen voted against the bill. GOP Sen. Jeremy Miller had an excused absence on Tuesday.
DFL Sen. Ken Eken appeared on the voting board for a long time as a "no" vote, he switched to "yes" at the last moment.
He told Politics in Minnesota: “I did not agree with the [the pay increase]. That’s why I initially voted no. But when I saw the votes weren’t there to pass the bill, I thought it wasn’t worth sacrificing all the other good parts of the bill."
The measure, if it becomes law would increase lawmakers annual pay to about $42,000 and the governor's pay to $128,000 by 2016. Lawmakers currently earn $31,000 a year and the governor earns $120,000. The first pay raises would go into effect in 2015.
Although the measure has DFL Gov. Mark Dayton's support, the Minnesota House is not moving on a similar measure.
House Speaker Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis, has said it is not a priority.
Bakk said the Senate will fight hard for the pay raise provision when it comes time for the House and Senate to compromise on the state's budget.
© 2013 Star Tribune