Wouldn’t we all love to be in Minnesota House Speaker Kurt Daudt’s shoes…soundly rejecting a generous pay hike?

    Wouldn’t we all love to be in Minnesota House Speaker Kurt Daudt’s shoes…soundly rejecting a generous pay hike?

    Offered a hefty pay raise along with the rest of his colleagues in the state House and Senate for their work as state legislators, Daudt has taken it upon himself to take measures to block the salary increase.

    In all seriousness, the Republican from Crown, Minnesota might have his heart in the right place. After all, he says – predictably, yes – that he’s not taking this selfless, fiscally conservative stand for any reasons having to do with his campaign for Minnesota governor in 2018.

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

    But even if Daudt is being truthful on that one, his stance is no less wrong.

    We can hate on our legislators for the lack of quality work we think they do each session in St. Paul, but that doesn’t change the fact that even though their legislative gig is officially considered a part-time job, they’re on the job more than part of the time, even if they still have other professional careers on the side. That also doesn’t change the fact that they’ve been paid the same annual salary, $31,000, since 1999. While a lot of us would do back-flips in the street just to get a 25-cent an hour pay raise, 18 years is a long time to be paid the same for arguably doing more work.

    Still, our legislators have no one to blame but themselves for their stagnant salary. Basically, since 1999, they’ve lacked the gumption to vote themselves a pay increase because they feared voter backlash. Too much voter backlash, of course, and you don’t get re-elected, and politicians certainly don’t want that.

    So DFLer Kent Eken from our neck of the woods a few years ago pushed to take legislator pay out of the hands of the legislature and instead ask Minnesota voters how they felt about having a citizen council decide how much our lawmakers should be paid. The question was on the ballot in the 2016 Election, and an overwhelming majority of Minnesota voters indicated they were on board with that idea. So the Legislative Salary Council was subsequently formed, and a couple weeks ago they approved a 45 percent annual pay increase for Minnesota’s legislators.

    But it’ll cost around $2.8 million, which must be authorized by lawmakers, and Daudt is having none of that. He’s directed the House to not provide the funding, and says it is up to lawmakers to appropriate state dollars, not the Legislative Salary Council, which, he adds, was a bad idea in the first place. Daudt says the legislature should first provide the money, then the council can OK pay raises.

    Daudt, the state legislator as well as the gubernatorial hopeful, is facing a dilemma, and so far he’s choosing the wrong side. If hard-working, underpaid Minnesotans don’t like the size of the raise given to the legislature by the citizen council, while they might direct some of their ire at the actual lawmakers receiving it, they’ll be irked with not just Daudt but everyone else in the House and Senate. And they might be less than pleased with the citizen council as well.

    But by taking his stance and discounting and even rejecting what lots of Minnesota voters approved in 2016 in the form of a constitutional amendment to form this Legislative Salary Council, the potentially negative spotlight is shining on Daudt and only Daudt.