Attorney General Keith Ellison is seeking a budget boost after five years of stagnant appropriations to the office, underlining the need to raise his attorneys’ salaries.
Last week, Ellison told the House State Government Finance Committee that the average attorney in his office makes 13 percent less than in Ramsey County and nearly 20 percent less than the average lawyer in the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office.
“They are trying to do more with less,” Ellison said. “And the challenges of our state have not gotten less. The litigiousness of our society has not gotten less, and yet their pay has flatlined and in some cases gotten less so.”
Ellison’s office is asking Gov. Tim Walz to consider boosting its general fund appropriation by more than $2.5 million above the $22 million level at which the office has hovered since 2014. Walz’s budget proposal is due Feb. 19.
Ray Smith, the attorney general’s finance director, told the House committee that, when adjusted for inflation, the purchasing power of the office has been more than halved. Smith explained that the budget request would bring salaries closer to what Ramsey County offers ($110,399 on average), add staff to help rural county attorneys handle complex cases, and pay for information technology upgrades “to deal with the ever-increasing amount of electronic data we are seeing in our litigation.”