Minnesota lawmakers are set to get a 7.25 percent pay hike starting this summer under a proposal approved Friday by an independent panel.
Members of the Minnesota Legislative Salary Council voted unanimously to increase salaries from totals last set in 2021, noting inflation has since ballooned and lawmaker pay hasn't kept pace. Legislator salaries now sit at $48,250, but will increase to $51,750 July 1.
Annually, that’ll mean about a $3,500 increase from their current rate. Per diem, health insurance and retirement benefits aren't factored into that total. Overall, costs will increase about $810,854 a year for taxpayers.
Members of the panel said they wanted to raise legislator pay to attract more candidates and to keep sitting legislators interested in running again. But they also raised concerns about boosting pay higher than a rate that taxpayers would accept.
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Initially they discussed increases of 8 or 9 percent compared to current levels. But that pitch was ultimately trimmed down.
“I recognize inflation is important. But this idea of optics, 9.1 percent is just, in my view, too much,” council member Denny Laufenburger said. “I think it would be too much for the legislators to be able to comfortably address their constituents and say, ‘Yep, I'm getting the 9.1 percent.’”
Members who’d backed a larger raise said that the current climate around inflation and apprehension around running for office called for a larger boost.
“You're taking, in most cases, a (salary) cut of significance,” said council member Pamela Langseth. “When you layer on the dynamic of what's going on in the world today… it's a pretty big bite. We need to ask ourselves, is that a number that will attract people? We're trying to create a pool, but we need good people in these jobs.”
The council used the median non-farm household income to consider how much lawmakers should be paid. Increases are set to take effect in July and legislative approval is not needed.
Correction (March 11, 2023): This story has been updated to correct the process of the approval of the salary increase, when the increase takes effect and the total cost of the increase.