A proposed constitutional amendment that would give an independent panel the authority to set salaries for House and Senate members passed the Senate on Monday morning by a 43-23 vote margin. The amendment is expected to be on the ballot in 2016.
Unlike in the House, where Republicans pilloried the proposal as an underhanded way for legislators to boost their own pay, support for the proposed amendment didn’t split along party lines in the Senate. Seven Republicans voted in favor of letting voters decide whether legislative pay decisions should be made by an independent council, while three DFLers voted against it.
Currently legislators make a base salary of $31,000. The Senate passed legislation earlier this session that would have increased that figure to $41,000, a roughly 30 percent increase. The issue has been a top priority for Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk.
But House members, facing reelection next year, were nervous about the political consequences of voting for a significant pay hike. The constitutional amendment, which was carried by Sen. Kent Eken, DFL-Twin Valley, emerged as a compromise.
The Republican supporters of the pay commission amendment: Sens. Michelle Fischbach (Paynesville), Paul Gazelka (Nisswa), Mary Kiffmeyer (Big Lake), Warren Limmer (Maple Grove), Scott Newman (Hutchinson), Sean Nienow (Cambridge) and Carrie Ruud (Breezy Point). The DFL opponents: Sens. Ann Rest (New Hope), Katie Sieben (Newport) and Rod Skoe (Clearbrook).