Thursday, May 3, 2012

Mismanaging the Legislature. . .and the State

A quick note to an really interesting article in the Star Tribune pointing out that the Minnesota House of Representatives is over budget on its per diem.

The per diem is the daily expenses the legislature gives itself beyond the salary. Yes, the per diem seems legitimate so members can pay for room and board. However few of us get a salary and then room and board expenses, but our legislators do. Yes, the salary of $31,500 is not much but that is their salary and way back to the days when I was with Common Cause I advocated eliminating the per diem and raising the salary instead. Per diems are relatively hidden  and hard for the public to track. Some legislators take them, others do not, and when they were raised a few years ago by Larry Pogemiller they were done as an underhanded way to get around a real vote and accountability on really raising a salary.

What is bad here with the House going over on per diem is that they are being rewarded for bad management. Billions are cut from the state budget, we had a shutdown last year, employees were laid off at the state, and there is little progress now on resolving the issues in the current session. Yet the House still gets rewarded for bad behavior.

Note also who is at the top of the list for per diems--the leadership. It also looks like the GOP are higher on the list this time than the DFL.

The moral of the story: The House cannot manage either itself or the State. This story reinforces my point that the Legislature and the leadership deserve a failing grade.

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