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Garofalo authors resolution to rid perdiem pay during legislative session

Pat Garofolo

Rep. Pat Garofalo, R-District 58B, has authored a bill that if approved will end the paid allowance called per diem paid to legislators during the legislative session.

In 2016, Minnesotans voiced overwhelming approval for the amendment that took away the ability for legislators to determine their own pay. This amendment took effect in July 2018.

"This is the first legislative session that we have an opportunity to see the salary commission report and base our decisions off of it," Garofalo said.

Minnesota legislators earn a $45,000 annual salary. The per diem has been in place for decades.

"Right now there is a loophole in the law where during the legislative session, legislators can approve per diem payments for themselves," Garofalo said. "This resolution would get rid of that and that is the wishes of voters."

If approved, this resolution would only get rid of the per diem paid to legislators during the legislative session. It would not eliminate the allowance paid to lawmakers when not in session.

In theory, Garofalo said the per diem amount covers travel and living expenses, but in reality the salary commission pointed out this is essentially a loophole in the current law.

"It is not about whether per diem is good or bad, but the voters voted to get rid of the ability for politicians to give themselves pay raises and we should honor the will of the voters," Garofalo said.

During the session, lawmakers' per diem amounts remain close to the same and lawmakers chose those amounts, Garofalo said.

Garofalo, who was elected to the House in 2004, said he believes there is bipartisan support for this resolution and will most likely be voted upon in February by the rules committee.

"The Legislature should not be giving themselves a salary supplement during the session — that is the responsibility of the salary commission," Garofalo said. "What happens is that some legislators who are in politically competitive districts feel like they are forced to take less per diem compared to legislators in safe districts, and so again it is up to the individual members."

The allowance paid to lawmakers averages about $7,000 during the odd-number years, Garofalo said, and around $4,000 a year during even-numbered years of the legislative sessions.

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