32 Senate members max out expenses during legislative session

32 members of the Minnesota Senate took the maximum amount of per diem allowed during the 2011 legislative session. Nearly two thirds of the Senate Republican caucus, 23 in all, took the maximum amount of $12,040 during session. That amounts to $86 a day for the 140 days of the session (including Saturdays and Sundays).

The Minnesota Senate spent $756,556 on per diem payments during the 2011 legislative session.

Nine DFLers took the maximum amount in expenses.

Note: Senate Republicans scaled back the maximum per diem rate in January. The rate was lowered from $96 to $86.

Per diem is optional. It comes on top of the annual salary of $31,141 for lawmakers.

Democrats taking the maximum amount of per diem:

Linda Berglin, Minneapolis

Barb Goodwin, Columbia Heights

Ron Latz, St. Louis Park

James Metzen, South St. Paul

Sandy Pappas, St. Paul

Roger Reinert, Duluth

Ann Rest, New Hope

Linda Scheid, Brooklyn Park

Patricia Torres-Ray, Minneapolis

Republicans taking the maximum amount of per diem:

David Brown, Becker

Al DeKruif, Madison Lake

Michelle Fischbach, Paynesville

Paul Gazelka, Brainerd

Chris Gerlach, Apple Valley

Joe Gimse, Willmar

Dan Hall, Burnsville

David Hann, Eden Prairie

John Howe, Red Wing

Bill Ingebrigtsen, Alexandria

Mike Jungbauer, East Bethel

Warren Limmer, Maple Grove

Doug Magnus, Slayton

Carla Nelson, Rochester

Scott Newman, Hutchinson

Sean Nienow, Cambridge

Gen Olson, Minnetrista

Mike Parry, Waseca

Claire Robling, Jordan

Dave Senjem, Rochester

Dave Thompson, Lakeville

Ray Vandeveer, Forest Lake

Pam Wolf, Spring Lake Park

Democrats declining to take per diem:


Republicans declining to take per diem:

Roger Chamberlain, Lino Lakes

Here’s the report from the MN Senate:


  • John O.

    Clarification needed: Don’t legislators also get health/dental and retirement on top of salary and per diem? Just asking…

  • danno

    And now the legislative commission on annoying everybody is scheduling regular meetings that keep those cards, letters and per diems coming. Who knew.

  • Garrett

    Tom, I also have a question. Do legislators who get a housing allowance get that money on top of the per diem payments? I’d be curious to know who’s collecting housing payments and how much.

  • Hazel Stone

    I’m not exactly a fan of GOP legislators, but the per diem is important so we can have people serve who are not wealthy. It is especially important when the legislators live in Greater MN and have a lot of commuting.

    Just sayin’.

  • Garrett

    They are definitely underpaid for the amount of work they put in (most of them), but it’s politically infeasible for them to vote for a pay increase.

    The whole per diem system is a mess; in an ideal world they would raise salaries and abolish per diem.

  • Susan

    “Democrats declining to take per diem: None”

    When I heard this story on the radio, it said DFL senators Simon and Liebling did not take per diem, and they are not listed on the chart as having taken any.

  • peter hill

    I appreciate the detailed info on lawmakers’ direct expense. In perspective, though, the whole thing amounts to about 0.04% of the amount in dispute between the Governor and the Republicans, and only 0.0022% of the biennial budget. That’s pretty efficient government. btw, I’d love to see this level of reporting on the other 99.9978% we spend. Tom?

  • Tom Scheck

    I’m following up on a few things.

    Peter, we’ve been writing a lot about the spending and proposed cuts and will continue to do so.

    Susan: I broke the reports down by House and Senate. The House report is on the blog as well.

    Garrett: Rural lawmakers and a few exurban lawmakers have the right to take housing. You can see those expenses on the report I posted above.

    John O. Lawmakers do receive health benefits. I’d have to check to see how much that costs the state.

    Please let me know if you have other questions…

  • TickDad

    I believe WCCO reported that the legislatures receive a state contribution to their pension for the amount of per diem they receive. If I understood this correctly, they pay 5% and the state pays 6%. For one union, the employee pays 5% and the state pays 5% to the pension. It would be interesting to know why the state is contributing an extra 20% for the legislatures.

  • peter hill

    Tom, please don’t get me wrong. I’ve mentioned before that you and your team are the best in the biz, and your capitol reporting is first rate. I offer comparison of the body of coverage with the level of detail you applied to this tiny fraction of the budget only to highlight the level of detail you applied to this tiny fraction of the budget.

    I think the coverage of legislators’ compensation is out of proportion to its importance. I think your overall coverage is still great. OK?

  • Tom Scheck


    No blood no foul.