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District 57 lawmakers view pay during shutdown differently

South Washington County lawmakers have accepted paychecks during the state government shutdown, but handled the pay differently.

Sen. Katie Sieben and Reps. Denny McNamara and John Kriesel were on a list of 138 legislators who did not elect to have their pay withheld during the shutdown, which reaches Day 19 on Tuesday. (There currently are 200 lawmakers.) A legislator is paid $31,140 annually.

McNamara, R-Hastings, said he continued to receive his July pay and benefits, but was donating all of it to his hometown hospital's Regina Foundation.

"I just felt that I'm kind of a believer if you don't get your work done on time you shouldn't get extra compensation," McNamara said.

Kriesel, R-Cottage Grove, took the paycheck and a different view.

"I just say, when government shut down, I didn't stop working," the freshman lawmaker said. "The thing that people don't realize is that if we had reached a budget agreement (in May), we wouldn't be spending much time at the Capitol at all - and you still get paid year round.

"We were blamed for it, rightfully so," Kriesel said of the shutdown, "but we've been working hard the past few weeks to resolve this and I've been working extremely hard as well."

Sieben, DFL-Cottage Grove, told constituents in a recent e-newsletter that she was donating her salary during the shutdown to the emergency fund at the Friends in Need Food Shelf in St. Paul Park.

Gov. Mark Dayton, a Democrat, asked not to receive pay during the shutdown. He is paid $120,303 a year.

An estimated 22,000 state employees were laid off when the shutdown started July 1.

Scott Wente

Scott Wente has been editor at the South Washington County Bulletin since 2011. He worked as a reporter at other Forum Communications newspapers from 2003 to 2011.

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