Minnesota Senate approves pay raises for legislators and state officials
By Axel Spaeh
ST. PAUL, Minnesota: On Tuesday, April 23, the Minnesota State Senate approved a bill that included pay raises for state legislators and other state officials. The pay raise was part of a larger bill that also included measures that called for additional spending on veteran's programs and that would allow the state Veteran's Affairs Department to open a veteran's nursing home in Beltrami County. The measure would raise pay from $30,000 per year, where it has remained for nearly 15 years, to $42,000 per year in 2016.
The measure was advocated by a compensation council, which recommended "higher salaries for legislators, the governor, attorney general, secretary of state, auditor and judges". At first, the measure did not receive the necessary votes to pass, falling short by one vote, then remaining tied at 33-33. After some deliberation, Senator Kent Eken changed his vote from No to Yes and voting was closed. Eken later told the press "I originally voted no, but when I saw that the votes weren’t there to pass the bill I thought it wasn’t worth sacrificing all of the other good parts of this bill". Senate Majority Leader Thomas Bakk explained that he supported the pay raise "because without them, the Legislature could be dominated by the retired, rich and those who cannot find other jobs".