Legislators in the Minnesota House and Senate were paid nearly $1.8 million to cover daily expenses for the 2015 legislative session.

That figure doesn’t include travel and living expenses associated with the 2015 special session, or the  $31,140 representatives and senators earn annually.

In the Minnesota House, 48 legislators collected the maximum per diem amount of $8,778 at a rate of $66 per day.

Rep. Peter Fischer, DFL-Maplewood, collected $2,130, the lowest amount of all his colleagues.

Senators earn $86 per day during session. Twenty-six senators requested the full amount of $11,438.

Sen. Melissa Wiklund, DFL-Bloomington, collected $7,912 for the session, putting her at the bottom of the list in the Senate.

Legislators can stipulate when and how much they collect. For instance, Wiklund collected no per diem on the weekends during this session, as well as nine days between March and April.

Sen. Carla Nelson, R-Rochester, collects only $80 per day and nothing on Sundays.

See a list of all House members who took per diem:

See a list of all senators who took per diem:

 

 

 

Good morning. Here are five political stories to follow today.

1. $1 million

That’s how much larger the state’s payroll for commissioners and agency chiefs will be going forward. Gov. Mark Dayton announced raises for his cabinet members yesterday, and the political fallout has once again been swift. Republicans say the raises, which are more than 20 percent in some cases, are much bigger than raises most Minnesotans will see this year. Sounds like a campaign talking point to me. (MPR News)

2. Midwest momentum

Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders swings through Rochester, Minnesota, this morning (incidentally, President Barack Obama will be in La Crosse, Wisconsin, today), and the stop is part of a larger strategy to court organizers, small donors and lots of media attention. As Politico points out, the Sanders campaign hopes the news trickles back to voters in states that matter most early in the primary. (Politico)

3. “Loud and proud”

Hillary Clinton is going out of her way to court LGBTQ voters, complete with a “Pride” section of her website that sells t-shirts featuring Clinton’s face and the words “loud and proud.” Count the article from the New York Times that details her efforts as part of a much longer chapter on how Clinton has quickly changed her tune on same-sex marriage. (The New York Times)

4. What’s good for Trump is good news for Dems

Donald Trump is surging in the polls despite some offensive remarks about Mexican immigrants. Guess who’s happy about that? Democrats, of course. They would be happy to make him the face of the Republican party, which is doing its best to woo Latino voters this election cycle. (The Washington Post)

5. SWLRT

Twin Cities officials backed $250 million in cuts to the proposed Southwest Corridor light rail line, hoping to rein in the line’s ballooning costs and save the project. (MPR News)

 

 

  1. Listen Reporter Catharine Richert talks with MPR News’ Tom Crann

Payroll for Minnesota’s top agency and department heads will increase by more than $1 million after Gov. Mark Dayton announced salary changes for members of his cabinet.

Dayton in January said he wanted to give the state’s top officials a big raise, in part because he wants to attract the best talent for the jobs who might make more money in the private sector. He estimated the total increase at just over $800,000. But legislators on both sides of the aisle balked and effectively punted the issue to this summer.

On Wednesday, Dayton unveiled the final raises, telling MPR News they were very similar to what he proposed in January.

However, the payroll for Dayton’s administrators is set to go up much more than that for two reasons.

First, Dayton’s salary plan includes a $42,000 pay increase for all five Public Utility Commission commissioners.

Second, Dayton is poised to fill a new position that wasn’t included on his list earlier this year: The School Trust Lands director will make roughly $125,000 a year.

Dayton also said this morning that Minnesota commissioners haven’t gotten a raise in 10 years. However,  they received a 5 percent raise in each of the last two years. Before that, they hadn’t gotten a raise.

Republicans say Minnesota’s commissioner compensation package is on average 11 percent more than in other states, although that includes data from all of the 1,400-plus public sector managers in Minnesota, not just the two dozen or so agency chiefs. When only those commissioners are compared to people with similar positions in the private sector, they get paid much less.