August 4, 2005
St. Paul, Minn. — (AP) Gov. Tim Pawlenty wants lawmakers to feel a financial pinch the next time they fail to complete a budget on time.
He toured the state Thursday promoting his "Performance Pay for Politicians" proposal to withhold paychecks from himself and legislators the next time they miss a critical budget deadline.
The Republican governor said from the Capitol steps that he wants the plan to be the first bill passed by the 2006 Legislature.
It's just one of several reform measures to crop up after this year's monumental standoff. The two-year state budget was approved after a nearly two-month special session and eight-day government shutdown.
"This is not supposed to be a full-time job," Pawlenty said of legislators. "This is not your career. Go get another job."
Under his proposal, lawmakers and the governor would forego their June salaries if they blow by the May adjournment deadline in years when they are supposed to pass a budget. If their work spills into July - when the new budget period begins - they would miss out on pay for July and August as well.
Sen. John Hottinger, DFL-St. Peter, said he would vote for Pawlenty's plan but doesn't think it would solve the real problems. What's needed, Hottinger said, is a joint House-Senate budget-setting process that involves all 201 lawmakers. For years, a few key lawmakers and the governor have cut the final deal.
"What we need are some real institutional reforms," Hottinger said. "Most legislators aren't here for the paycheck, not in June anyway."
Both Hottinger and Pawlenty expressed mild support for some version of a continuing budget resolution to keep state government operating even if the state goes into another budget period without appropriations in place. But Pawlenty said he hopes it'll never come to that again.
His schedule Thursday included stops in Rochester, Albert Lea, Mankato, Alexandria and Moorhead.
Legislators make $31,140, which is spread out over the entire year even though they usually only meet in the first half of the year. The governor makes $120,303 a year.
This year's special session was the ninth in 11 years.