AT THE CAPITOL: Lawmakers discuss pay equality gap, own salaries - New York News

AT THE CAPITOL: Lawmakers discuss pay equality gap, own salaries

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) -

Did you know that, on average, women in Minnesota earn 80 cents for every dollar earned by a man? That gap has lawmakers talking about pay equality -- and they're also discussing their own salaries.

PAY EQUALITY GAP IN MINNESOTA

Recent data shows gains in pay equity have lagged in recent years because women in Minnesota are still making less than their male colleagues.

Minnesota ranks 16th in the country when it comes to wage equality and is ahead of all neighboring states. Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa and South Dakota all have higher pay equity gaps. North Dakota is among the lowest in the nation at 73 percent.

"I think Minnesota is a glass half full," Catherine Hill, an equity pay researcher with the American Association of University Women, said. "You've got a lot of good things going on at the state level. It would also be nice to see work on the contractors with the state, and it would be nice to see a little more outreach about how pay decisions are made and helping people understand if they're being paid fairly."

The studies found the narrowest gap in pay between men and women across the nation occurs in the first year out of college. Data also suggests the gap grows wider after a woman turns 45.

LAWMAKER SALARIES

It's always controversial when lawmakers vote on their own pay, and that's part of the reason they haven't seen a raise since 1999.

Currently, Gov. Mark Dayton makes $120,000. Legislators make $31,000, and Dayton says their salary and increased job responsibilities show a raise is long overdue.

"A part-time Legislature is a long-ago myth, and you can't pay for that level of financial responsibility and all of the policy considerations and all the constituent service," Dayton said. "I think we want to make it possible for good people, especially those with families, to serve in the Legislature. They should be able to make what an average Minnesota family makes."

The pay increases are an annual recommendation from the non-partisan Minnesota Compensation Council, which would like to raise the governor's salary to $127,000 and bump pay for lawmakers to $42,000.

Dayton has vowed to donate any raise given to him to charity, but the raises aren't a sure thing. The pay increases are currently found in an omnibus bill that the Senate is debating before the full floor.

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