St Paul, Minn. While thousands of Minnesota employees go without paychecks because the state government is shut down, many lawmakers are still being paid. And the list of workers whose services are deemed “essential” includes the governor’s housekeeper and his personal chef.
As the shutdown entered its second full week Monday, with no end in sight, politicians and public employees traded accusations over who’s getting paid, who isn’t and why.
“None of them should be getting paid,” said Mike Lindholt, a Department of Transportation maintenance worker idled by the shutdown. “If you don’t do your job, you don’t get paid. That’s how it is for most people.”
The political leaders whose budget dispute caused the shutdown are still entitled to collect their pay, and more than half of them are. Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton and the Republican Senate majority leader have both declined their checks, as have some rank-and-file lawmakers of both parties. But many others are still collecting checks, including the Republican House speaker.
“I would like to be treated just like every other state employee,” said Republican Carla Nelson of Rochester, one of 14 state senators who is refusing her salary until the impasse is resolved. “I thought it was the right thing to do for myself and my constituents.”
State lawmakers earn $31,140 a year, which is paid in monthly installments. Because the Legislature is part-time, some members have other jobs. For others, it’s their only source of income.
The shutdown began its 11th day Monday, keeping 22,000 state employees at home without pay. The impasse has halted 100 road projects, closed 66 state parks, barricaded numerous highway rest stops and cut off many services. In that time, Dayton and GOP leaders have met just twice to discuss their differences.
As of midday Monday, no further budget negotiations were scheduled. Minnesota is the only state in the nation that has not approved a new budget this year.