Like Rodney Dangerfield, lieutenant governors just don’t get much respect. Often relegated to ribbon-cutting ceremonies (and for a while, in Minnesota, transportation commissioner, but we saw how that worked out), the No. 2 official in state government seems to spend lots of time waiting in the wings in case something happens to No. 1.
State Rep. Phyllis Kahn, a feisty DFLer from Minneapolis, saw an opportunity there and proposed to kill the position. It would save the $78,000 salary each year, as well as some support costs, and she suggested making the secretary of state the go-to guy or gal if the governor is unable to serve.
But Kahn’s idea didn’t fly. It was killed in committee Thursday on a 9-7 vote, reports the House Public Information Services:
“I think this is an easy choice … to eliminate, compared to the very hard choices that we’re going to have to make,” [Kahn said in support of her plan].
David Schultz, a professor at the Hamline University School of Business, said 42 states have lieutenant governors. “There seems to be no discernible pattern that states without a lieutenant governor are better or worse governed that those with lieutenant governors,” he said.
Rep. Steve Gottwalt (R-St. Cloud) said the positions of secretary of state and lieutenant governor are separate, and voters elect them based on different reasons.
Rep. Paul Marquart (DFL-Dilworth) said when voters go to the polls, they are voting for a political philosophy. There should be a continuation of the voters’ intentions and it shouldn’t be changed unless through an election, he said.
A companion, SF98, sponsored by Sen. Ann Rest (DFL-New Hope), awaits action by the Senate State and Local Government Operations and Oversight Committee.