Report finds some legislators doubling their pay with per diem payments

Heather J. Carlson of the Rochester Post-Bulletin takes an in-depth look at the practice of per diem payments in the Minnesota Legislature, noting that some more than double their $31,400 annual salary with the daily supplemental payments.

And the paper offers a handy online database, so you can easily check how much your representatives are bringing home

It’s not a new topic, but in these days of budget tightening, Carlson has a follow-up that asks whether legislators should set an example by cutting the amount they can request each day they are on state business from the current $96 per day in the Senate and $77 in the House.

Phil Krinkie, president of the Minnesota Taxpayers League, notes that while the per diem is meant to reimburse lawmakers for such daily expenses as food, lawmakers do not have to account for how they spend that money.

“You can collect $96 per day for expenses Monday through Sunday even though you are not at the Capitol, even though you are not doing legislative business. Some people would call that ridiculous. Other people would call it theft,” Krinkie said.

Krinkie would rather see lawmakers get reimbursed for daily expenses based on receipts. If lawmakers want more pay, he said, they should have to increase their salaries.

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