No, Legislators Should Not be Paid More



The idea of paying Minnesota legislators more has been floated by numerous individuals in the public sphere. The state legislators currently make roughly $31,000 a year, and an additional per diem for expenses while in session (which can increase one’s salary by one-half). The legislators have not received a wage increase since 1999, andit should stay this way.

Minnesota has what is called a “citizen legislature,” meaning legislators are expected to have other jobs outside of the legislative work, which encompasses only between three and six months a year. This is a good thing. American civic localities and state governments were never supposed to have professional politicians, in fact, Americans don’t like professional politicians. All one has to do is look at who is winning elections of all types: political outsiders.

For those who are advocating that legislators get paid more, I would simply ask what they have done to deserve this. If anything, capitalist principals say that legislators should be paid less; they are bad their jobs. They have increased taxes, failed to slow terrorist recruitment in Minnesota, have increased University of Minnesota tuition, were given a D+ rating for transparency by the Center for Public Integrity in 2015, and have chosen not to return the surplus to its rightful owner: the Minnesota tax payer.

A professional political class is being created in Minnesota. Lifelong legislators like Representatives Phyllis Kahn and Lyndon Carlson have been in the legislature for over 30 years. 50 legislators have served more than 3,000 days in office. These legislators are members of the political class, and are undoubtedly out of touch with citizens simply because they haven’t had to live like a private citizen in too long of a time. They fall victim to St. Paul double speak, and don’t have to live with the consequences of their decisions because they are insulated by their job status.

Finally, state government is supposed to be of, by and, for the state’s citizenry. Legislators are there to serve, not to get rich. If they are looking to get rich, they should seek a different career. Many of the legislators serve in districts that safely favor their political party, meaning re-election is virtually guaranteed, and their biggest worry becomes where they will be sitting at the State of the State Address rather than how they can best help their constituents.

As taxpayers of Minnesota we must stand up and require more from our legislators, not reward them for their failures. Let’s force them to be civil servants, involved members of their communities, and leaders worthy of our admiration. Advocating against increased legislator pay sends a message to those who represent us in the legislature: do your job.