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Senate Appropriations Agrees Higher Pay Recruits More Legislators

The South Dakota Senate is on its way to agreeing with the House that the primary cause of shortages of teachers and other workers is low pay. Yesterday, Senate Appropriations approved Senate Bill 170, which would raise legislator pay from $6,000 to $10,000 a year. Former legislator Frank Kloucek went to Pierre to say, "Don't do it!" but the committee voted 6–2 to embrace the simple economic logic voiced by SB 170 sponsor Senator Craig Tieszen (R-34/Rapid City):

Sen. Craig Tieszen said his proposal is designed to make it easier for residents to make it to Pierre. He said some people don't run for office because the pay is too low.

"I think we're at a point where it makes it hard for some people to serve," he said [James Nord, "SD Senate Panel Approves Measure to Hike Legislator Salaries," AP via Rapid City Journal, 2015.02.12].

Senator Tieszen's majority leader, Sen. Tim Rave (R-25/Baltic) agrees that we must pay people more to get them to take tough jobs:

Senate Majority Leader Tim Rave, a Republican from Baltic, said he's watched it become more and more difficult to recruit candidates over his 13 years in office. The Legislature typically is in session from mid-January to mid-March. They have one day at the end of March to consider vetoes.

Whether or not the bill passes — similar proposals have failed in the past — Rave said the issue "needs to be brought to the limelight" [Nord, 2015.02.12].

The House has passed three bills to put more money in legislators' pockets, on the argument that low pay deters candidates from entering the field.

So tell me again, Governor Daugaard, why do we need a Blue Ribbon Task Force to figure out why South Dakota is running out of teachers, when your own Legislature seems to understand that we solve workforce shortages by raising pay?


  1. Nick Nemec 2015.02.13

    The Blue Ribbon Education Task Force is nothing more than an excuse to not talk about more education funding this legislative session. This task force will meet several times and possibly even call for additional funding along with some tinkering around the edges with formulas and rules, next legislative session the legislature and governor will focus on the rule tinkering and ignore any calls for increased funding. The media will be distracted by the governor's marketing and focus on the rule changing as if that's the key to solving teacher shortages. Last in the nation teacher pay will continue to be ignored.

  2. mike from iowa 2015.02.13

    Candidates don't get paid if they don't win. In Dakota anything short of hardcore wingnut has next to no chance of getting elected,ergo,the pay raise is basically for wingnut cronies for the forseable future. Basically better paid welfare queens. Maybe,since they tend to take care of koch bros bidness-the koch bros oughta spring for this raise. And doesn't Dakota have a lemon law to protect consumers from getting the shaft from businesses?

  3. MC 2015.02.13

    To me honest, I had thought about running, however I can't afford a pay cut right now.

  4. 96Tears 2015.02.13

    Kloucek should head the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Legislative Pay Hikes and take the task force on the road to public hearings to review all the great, glorious and gripping bills being introduced this year.

    No wonder legislators want to carry guns on the floor. Shame is a terrible motivator.

  5. mike from iowa 2015.02.13

    This gentleman applied for a non-paying job as an adviser to Alaska's new Independent Governor and was turned down for some reason.

    He claims he has the bonafides to do the job.

  6. Dennis Wagner 2015.02.13

    Maybe there should be a training wage (of, say $7.50/hour for 40 legislative days for a total of $2,400) for legislators with less than 8 years of experience......

  7. Roger Cornelius 2015.02.13

    For the actual achievements by this current legislature, and past, they should be facing a pay reduction and given a one-way bus ticket back home.

  8. mike from iowa 2015.02.13

    You can't shame wingnuts. What would shame a decent person(such as a lib) becomes defiance in wingnuts because they claim their imaginary lord,whom they mock constantly,has forgiven them and that is all that matters.

  9. Joan Brown 2015.02.13

    How many of those legislators actually give up their full time, permanent job, for an extremely part time job that doesn't last more than two months and maybe an occasional trip to Pierre, for something other times of the year? Also how many of the full time permanent jobs are extremely well paying? I would be bet most of these people are in a fairly good financial situation, and they want more pay for wasting tax payer money.

  10. MJL 2015.02.15

    The reason that we don't have to pay teachers more to secure them is that teachers do it simply for the love of teaching and for the welfare of students. The legislature only cares about the money.

  11. Charlie Hoffman 2015.02.15

    If you do your job well and go to as many school board, county commission, city council etc. meetings as possible the legislature is a full time job. Having gone 15 years without a pay raise is something no working person would have put up with. Even teachers received the inflation rate increase at worst. Two years ago $10,000 would have been right. Should the legislature agree to this the money alone will never entice anyone to run.

  12. Disgusted Dakotan 2015.02.15

    @Nick Nemec You are spot on. Remember the public outrage over the decimated deer and elk population in SD? You know the wildlife that we pay Daugaard's campaign donating cronies at GF&P the big bucks to manage? What did Daugaard do? Spent more taxpayer money to buy time with a study to determine why. It pacified the voters by distracting them from wanting accountability from Daugaard and GF&P.

    The problem is the crony establishment political machine would rather spend money on "economic development" where they can ensure supporters get grants and no-bid contracts, then support the infrastructure needs we all actually pay taxes for.

  13. JP 2015.02.17

    That seems like a pretty big raise? Would the math work out to be more than the 2% that is being proposed for everyone else in the state? Hmmm. I will take an extra 6,000 dollars to make horrible decisions for this state!

  14. caheidelberger Post author | 2015.02.17

    65.7 percentage points more than the 2% raises, JP.

    I support raising legislator pay for exactly the reasons legislators are offering about the need to recruit more talent. I will then demand that they apply the same logic to teacher pay.

  15. JP 2015.02.18

    Uh Yea! And that is appropriate on what level?? Considering most of them probably have jobs that pay them a very decent wage, that they are still doing while "balancing the budget" and "making new laws".
    As a teacher I will gladly take a 6,000 pay raise and call it good! I haven't seen that kind of a raise in the last 10 years combined! This state just cannot get much more ridiculous.

  16. Jana 2015.03.01

    Heck, after listening to the hearings on minimum wage for those who don't have experience, I'm thinking we pay 'training wage' for new legislators.

    Let them get 90 days experience, so it would be two terms given their taking Mondays and half Fridays off.

    We'll call it the Novsrtup pay plan, since David so painfully devoid of conviction described how new employees don't deserve a higher wage and can't be trained in 90 days. Thanks David!

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