Minnesota State Capitol
by Steve Timmer
Mar 23, 2015, 10:30 AM

Working hard for the money

Although it has kind of died down now, there was a great wailing and gnashing of teeth at the Legislature over the salary increases given by Governor Mark Dayton to his Commissioners, first by the House Republicans and their leader, Speaker Kurt Daudt, followed shortly thereafter by DFL Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, who persuaded senators to vote to put the raises on hold. General hilarity ensued, at least over here at LeftMN.

There was a deal reached by the lawmakers and the governor that you can read about here. The salary increases were rescinded, but the governor will be given a one day window to change them this summer.

Here is a list of the new salaries, or what were the new salaries for 2015, from Commissioner of Minnesota Management and Budget Myron Frans. He got a raise, too, by the way. Myron is the COO of the state; the state budget for the current biennium is around $70 billion dollars. But Myron’s good with numbers; he used to be a senior tax partner at a large Twin Cities law firm.

A lot of the legislative fulminating was over the percentage increases. There was a local media outfit, I can’t even remember which one, who inquired about percentage salary increases for personnel at the Lege, and was told they were much smaller!

I thought at the time: wrong question. What are people actually paid? That’s the question. So I asked, and in recent days, I got some answers from the Senate, anyway. The 2015 information isn’t available, apparently, which would be comparing apples to apples, but here’s a clip from the Senate’s reply showing the top paid Senate employees for 2014.

2014 Senate salaries

The Secretary of the Senate was paid $143,870 last year; we can assume it is at least some more this year. The Secretary is sort of the COO of the Senate.

The Secretary of the Senate has a constituency of 67 people. The MMB Commissioner’s is north of 5 million people.

The biennial budget of the Senate is around $50 million. The biennial budget for the state is around $70 billion.

Yet, in 2014, the MMB Commissioner was paid less than the Secretary of the Senate. There are a handful of people on the list above who made more than the agency commissioners last year, and who in fact, made very close to what the “second tier” commissioners would have made under the new schedule.

I don’t know what you would call this, but I call it hypocrisy.

I do not begrudge anybody they money they make, including the people on the list above. But it is unseemly to carp about the proposed salaries of people who administer budgets far larger than the Senate’s, and are expected to do it for less money.

When I kick free similar information from the House, I will report that, too.

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