"He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left."
Matthew 25:33

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Another per diem story

This is from the Minnesota Taxpayers League. I believe it's time for me to check up on Metzen, Hanson, and Atkins. They live only five minutes from the capitol but sure seem to feel entitled to tap us taxpayers for all they can get.

I have been discussing the per diem issue with various people all summer. Some say that our legislators should just give themselves a raise and be done with their helter skelter use of per diem. If they vote for a raise, it will not take affect until after the next election. And with 2008 being an election year, I think they fear the implications that could cause them. I have heard the argument that for us to have the best people step up to represent us, they must be justly compensated. I don't go for that one bit. In New Hampshire legislators are paid $100. The people of New Hampshire have representatives who feel it is their civic duty to step up, rather than it being a second job.

We all know that when politicians need a few bucks to cover some desperately desired item of spending they can simply raise taxes or fees. Of course you and I don’t have this option when bills come due at the end of the month so we’re forced to budget and make choices. Why so many elected officials can’t understand this has always puzzled me. Don’t they have to make tough choices around the kitchen table, too? Well, according to this story from the Star Tribune, I now realize they don’t. They just increase their salary when money gets a little tight. That’s exactly what a number of state legislators are doing when they claim ridiculous per diem expenses – in some cases doubling their $31,000 a year legislative salaries. State Rep. Bernie Lieder (DFL-Crookston), chair of the House Transportation Committee, “said many who top the lists are committee chairmen from communities far from St. Paul. Many of those committees conduct business even when the Legislature is not in session.” And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the other problem. What part of the world “adjournment” don’t legislators understand? Granted, the 35W bridge collapse has necessitated an increased number of transportation committee hearings. But what possible business does the Capitol Restoration Working Group or the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources have that needs to be accomplished now? Go home! And if you try and say that these kinds of meetings are important but they get lost in the shuffle during regular legislative sessions, that’s a pretty good clue that the work you’re doing is worthless.

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