Posted: 06/08/11 13:14
by Dave Mindeman
Personally I have never been a big objector to legislative per diem payments. I think legislators are grossly underpaid for what they are expected to do (except when they do nothing, maybe they are overpaid...but I digress.)
So it is a bit amusing to see the MPR report on per diem payments in this legislature.
MPR reports that nearly every lawmaker claimed thousands of dollars in expense payments despite the state's budget problems.
32 members of the Senate took the maximum in per diem payments (23 Republicans and nine DFLers). Rep. Roger Chamberlain, R-Lino Lakes, took no per diem.
40 members of the House took the maximum in per diem payments (23 DFLers and 17 Republicans). Rep. Tina Liebling, DFL-Rochester and Rep. Steve Simon, DFL-St. Louis Park, took no per diem.
So 40 Republicans maxed out on per diem and 32 Democrats. Like I said, I don't think it is a big deal....except for the Republican hypocrisy of it.
In 2010, Minnesota Democrats Exposed made a big deal of per diem by Democrats.....
The top 12 per diem takers in the House and 17 per diem takers in the Senate for this biennium (2009-10) are all members of the DFL caucus. Capitol Report highlights all of the totals in the chart below. Even more alarming is the amount of per diem (we could also call it ?extra legislative pay?) taken by DFL?ers living within shouting distance of the state capitol.
MDE was "outraged" that 29 DFLers had the highest per diem payments in the legislature. The current report shows 40 GOPers maxxed out (took the most they could) in this session.
When you consider the salaries of our legislators, per diem should not be a political issue. It is part of their salary and not, by any means, an overpayment. Yes, my Senator, Chris Gerlach, took the maximum per diem. It's OK Senator, no problem with me.
But when the GOP noise machine wants to throw stones at Democrats for this issue, remember the glass house.