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Citizen council not needed

We are all so busy trying to figure who to vote for, or vote against, in the presidential election that we may not be aware of a proposed amendement to the Minnesota Constitution, which also will be on the Nov. 8 ballot.
The proposal would take away the state Legislature’s ability to set the salaries for state senators and representatives, and would instead delegate that task to a 16-member citizen council.
The “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” adage applies here. We haven’t seen hefty raises for our state legislators, primarily because they are aware that excessively bumping up salaries could bring about a backlash when the next election rolls around. Voters don’t forget things like that, and they are especially mindful if they don’t think their legislators are earning their salaries.
Not to mention, trying to determine the membership of the committee will probably result in the same old gridlock among party lines that has stalled so many issues in the state. Should there be eight DFLers and eight Republicans? Should the minority parties have representation? Who appoints the committee? The Legislature? The governor?
It’s been noted that state legislators have not received a pay hike since 1999. Currently, they make an annual salary of $31,140. Those in leadership positions make a little over another $1,000 per month.
And, remember, all of these hold their regular employment when the Legislature is not in session.
Is $31,140 enough? When you consider that many outstate legislators have to rent apartments during the legislative session, and other expenses, maybe it isn’t. On the other hand, the mean income per capita in Minnesota was $33,425. Not such a large difference.
Perhaps legislators do deserve a modest boost in order to bring them closer to the mean income in Minnesota.
And that’s the beauty of the current system: first it takes far more than 16 people to come to a consensus on legislative salaries, which means a lot of debate and thoughtful discussion. Second, legislators know that there will soon be another election, and their constituents will let them know if they are earning their paycheck or not.
We encourage voters to not support the constitutional amendment. The current process ain’t broke, and it doesn’t need fixing.