MN House speaker moves to block lawmaker pay raises

ST. PAUL (AP) — Republican House Speaker Kurt Daudt moved Thursday to block an impending $14,000 raise for lawmakers recently approved by an independent body, prompting constitutional questions about the Legislature intervening to stop a constitutionally mandated pay increase.

Minnesota voters set the 45 percent raise in motion in November, overwhelmingly approving a constitutional amendment that removed lawmakers’ ability to set their own pay, handing that power to a new Legislative Salary Council. Late last week, the council approved an increase from the current $31,000 annual salary to $45,000 starting in July — the Legislature’s first pay raise since 1999.

But lawmakers still need to authorize the extra money to cover those larger paychecks, roughly $2.8 million in total. Daudt made clear in a Thursday letter that the House would not provide that funding, and directed House payroll staff not to issue the raises. He drew a clear line between voters’ approval of the constitutional amendment shifting responsibility over setting salaries and the scope of the raises that the council eventually approved.

“For us to accept that pay when others are not getting that kind of pay increase really would be wrong,” Daudt told reporters.