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GOP Rep. Tony Cornish wants to end legislative pay and benefits during shutdown

Tony Cornish, the colorful Republican representative/lawman from Good Thunder, announced this morning that he’s going to present a bill that would prevent legislators from collecting pay, or from receiving the state portion of benefits, such as health insurance, during a shutdown.

Of course, at the moment, since there’s no legislative session in which to present the bill, there’s nothing for Cornish to do but announce it.

But in announcing that he’s going to have a bill, Cornish made two indirect points:

• Nothing is making Minnesotans more disgusted than the idea that state elected officials can receive pay — and benefits —  in the midst of this shutdown that has laid off more than 20,000 state employees.

• Cornish is placing some of the blame for the shutdown on the Legislature. Most Republicans have been trying to point all their fingers at Gov. Mark Dayton as the cause of the shutdown.

As for Point 1, Cornish said his bill is a response to the large number of emails he’s receiving from constituents regarding legislative pay.

Although large numbers of legislators have said they are turning down their pay, not mentioned is whether the state is still paying its portion of the cost of health insurance for legislators.

As for point 2, Cornish’s announcements essentially is a call for the Legislature to do something to bring the shutdown to an end.

“I believe that if a legislator is suffering the same pain as the people that his or her decisions are affecting, that will spur them to reach a quicker resolution and a successful end to a legislative session,’’ Cornish said in a statement. “I think it’s necessary to put legislators on a more realistic track.’’

Comments (6)

  1. Submitted by will lynott on 07/12/2011 - 12:35 pm.

    I’m not Tony’s biggest fan, but I’m with him on this one.

  2. Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 07/12/2011 - 12:44 pm.

    Now, THIS I can support. Thank you, Rep. Cornish!

  3. Submitted by Marilee Heggem on 07/12/2011 - 07:08 pm.

    I support GOP Representative Tony Cornish in his proposal to end legislative salaries, benefits, and per diem payments during a state government shutdown. I find it very appalling that House Speaker Zellers is continuing to take his salary as is my Representative Bruce Anderson (who has never even responded to any of my e-mails – he does not represent my interests and evidently doesn’t respond to e-mails either- why is he getting paid at all?). At least Governor Dayton and Majority Leader Koch have the good sense to have declined taking their salaries. I think most voters are appalled by the Republican legislators’ lack of good faith negotiation and compromise. Minnesotans are suffering and Majority Leader/Senator Koch is being very disingenuous in stating that summer is a time for road trips and could she ride along with Governor Dayton to St. Cloud today – get real Senator Koch and start working on an honest and fair proposal for compromise with Governor Dayton and stop making stupid statements about taking a road trip with Governor Dayton – we do not find that humorous at this point in time.

  4. Submitted by Steve Titterud on 07/12/2011 - 07:55 pm.

    The only good idea to come out of the Republican caucus since the start of the session.

    Cut off ALL benefits as well as pay – and don’t forget the per diem allowance, which I believe is, strictly speaking, not a part of pay or benefits. This should also be zero.

    What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. It is incomprehensible to me that any legislator would vote against such a bill, and if any do, I predict a mighty backlash in the next election cycle.

  5. Submitted by Paul Deeming on 07/12/2011 - 10:49 pm.

    Thank you Tony for doing the right thing. Of course, your bill will have to be passed in the next session with all new legislators because frankly, none of you will survive the next election after this pathetic debacle. I realize there are *some* of you who are doing the right thing, but unfortunately you are ALL seen as responsible, along with Gov. Dayton, and will be painted with the same broad brush of guilt.

    Collectively, the Legislature and the Governor have broken the law by not doing your jobs and ensuring the State’s budget in time for the now fiscal year. You know this is coming every two years. There is absolutely NO excuse for not getting it done. Instead, you have played party politics with people’s lives, some of whom will not survive; businesses, families and individuals. There should be more severe consequences for all of you, even more so than losing your office in the next election which I and others will work very hard to make sure it happens. Future Legislators must and will learn they cannot f*** over the people of Minnesota!

  6. Submitted by Amber Davis on 07/13/2011 - 01:48 pm.

    Despite the government shutdown one MN law maker (Rep. Tony Cornish) is already worried about passing new laws. Making it mandatory that there is no pay for legislators during a shutdown is a fine idea…BUT one would like to think lawmakers were focused on coming to a budget agreement and less about their own publicity and new business.
    Tony Cornish has another job with benefits I might add. He is the police chief for Lake Crystal, MN. He made the quote “That’s why I’ve got two jobs,” Cornish said. “If people disagree with me and throw me out in one, I’ve got the other one.” I bet state employees wish they had another job to fall back on now.

    The only reason he didn’t take pay from the state is that he is being paid $30+/hr from the city of Lake Crystal. Tony WAS fired from his position a couple years ago after a vote by city council but, re-hired later after another vote (public record). Does that sound like something that would happen to a guy doing his job for the public?

    Mankato Free Press story link.

    Link to Tony Cornish quote:

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