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Brock Greenfield Rejects Legislative Pay Raise, Al Novstrup Says OK, David Novstrup Says Vote Democrat

The Aberdeen crackerbarrel brought all sorts of fun. Both of northeast South Dakota’s parent-child legislator duos—Rep. Lana and Senator Brock Greenfield and Rep. Al and Senator David Novstrup—joined us, meaning referring to legislators by last name confuses everyone. It’s a good thing we’re all on a first-name basis here in South Dakota.

A Vietnam veteran at the back of the Ramkota conference room apparently heard something about legislators considering raising their own pay. The questioner didn’t indicate that he knew specifically about Senate Bill 160, which David is sponsoring to give legislators thousands of dollars more in reimbursement for off-Session “constituent services”. But he did direct his question at “the two career politicians who change jobs when they get to the end of their terms.”

The targeted Novstrups kept their seats and let Brock Greenfield answer first. Brock said he’ll never support a tax increase, because he’s a good “servant of the people and therefore I will not vote to increase my salary or any of the per diem or any other payments that would come in the off-Session.” Brock did not mention that he keeps trying to exempt himself from the sales and use tax that he’s supposed to collect and remit to the state as an amateur sports coach during the off-Session. (Hearing on SB 147 is Monday, 10:00 a.m., Senate Taxation.)

Never one to let an attack go unchallenged, Al Novstrup rose to point out that he’s never been termed out, which is true: since winning his first election in 2002, Al has served three House terms, then three Senate terms, and now another House term. We limit terms at four, so Al switches early, to protect his son from the strongest challenger in the Democratic field (hmmm… if that’s the case, expect Al to jump back to the Senate race this year).

Al is also right that legislators’ salary hasn’t been raised since 1998, when HB 1212 raised pay from $4,267 for 40-day Sessions and $3,733 for 35-day Sessions to a flat $6,000 every year. That was amended down from the original $10K per year proposal. Of course, the 1998 Legislature had the decency to make sure that law didn’t take effect until January 1 following the election, to give voters a chance to decide who deserved that raise and who didn’t.

Al showed some courage and says he’d vote for a pay raise that “would allow most people” to serve. He said New Hampshire’s $100 a year means “the wealthy have been able to serve in New Hampshire and the working class probably can’t. If we want a Legislature that is strictly from the retired and strictly from the wealthy, keep freezing our salaries forever, and you’ll end up with a Legislature that doesn’t represent the people.”

Having collected his thoughts, David Novstrup, the man actually sponsoring the bill in question, rose to explain his motives. He said he wants to make sure the Legislature funds teacher pay before raising legislator pay… which I would think would mean we’d see David’s name on bills to raise teacher pay before we see his name on bills to raise legislator pay. But no—page through his bills, and you see David’s name on more pay for legislators and members of the Board of Pardons and Paroles, funding to name a submarine, and stealth vouchers for private schools, but not on any of the bills seeking to give teachers more money. Hmmm… David, you’re saying one thing about priorities to the public, but you’re sponsoring bills that suggest other priorities. (Hmm… what was that I said about Father Al maybe wanting to slide over to the Senate race?)

David guaranteed Senate Bill 160 will fail. But then he tried to enunciate the argument that the basic market principles that are making it hard for low-paying South Dakota to recruit teachers also make it hard for low-paying South Dakota to recruit legislators.

I think some of you might really question how qualified some legislators are in this state and question their judgment. So I think you don’t want the pay so low that people are doing it because they are rich and wealthy, but you don’t want it so high that they’re doing it for the money. And so I think a slight increase is reasonable, but it’s just not going to happen and it will be a long time before it does, because it’s hard for us to make sure that those other priorities are met and have money left over for that because those are our priorities [Senator David Novstrup, response to question about legislator pay, Aberdeen crackerbarrel, 2016.02.20].

Curious: does David think that adding a $4,500 expense reimbursement for rank-and-file legislators and a $9,000 reimbursement for legislative leaders earning $6,000 salaries is mathematically “reasonable”? If so, I’d like to apply his definition of “reasonable” to the pay increases we’re trying to get for teachers: we should raise teacher pay from the current $40,880 average to $71,540 for regular teachers and $102,200 for department chairs and committee leaders. That sounds perfectly reasonable, don’t you think, David?

David then tried to make another point. Unfortunately for David, he made the argument that I make for replacing him and his colleagues with more Democrats:

But at some point you’re going to have a Legislature that’s all from one group which doesn’t help the decisions and the point of view, just all the issues we have in the state. We need to have a diverse group, our legislators, our city council, our county commission. If you have all the same people from the same group, you’re going to have some bad decisions come out of that legislative body [David Novstrup, 2016.02.20].

I am thrilled that David has finally figured out that one-party rule is the route to bad decisions. I look forward to winning David’s vote in November and working for reasonable pay increases for teachers, state employees… and maybe legislators, so we can recruit more qualified public servants.

24 Comments

  1. grudznick 2016-02-20

    Has not Big Boy Brock been in the legislatures at least as long as the young Mr. Novstrup? Certainly longer than Mr. Novstrup the younger. And since his convenience store closed he is probably the most professional of all those people on the stage, I’m just sayin…

    Did you get some questions in, Mr. H, or did the moderators ban you from asking because you are running against one of the Novstrups? If so that does not seem fair.

  2. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-02-20

    The questioner referred to the two who keep switching seats, thus referring to the Novstrup duo.

    No one prevented me from asking questions, but when I do blog coverage, I like to hold back and let other citizens ask the questions… and there was no shortage of questions.

  3. Gail L. Swenson 2016-02-20

    I find it interesting that Legislators are eager to say they have an “off season” where they do legislative work and believe they need pay for it. But these same legislators neglect to understand that teachers have an “off season” too that is used for classes, recertification and preparation to do their jobs. The “they only work 9 months” argument not only gets old, it also isn’t true.

  4. Lynn 2016-02-20

    Many legislators switch seats both Democrat and Republican. It is the way it’s set up since they put term limits. The voters decide so I see this as a non-issue.

  5. owen reitzel 2016-02-20

    a lot of people can’t run because their employer won’t let them run. That’s why you see the rich or business people or farmers in the legislature.
    Doesn’t matter what the pay is

  6. Lynn 2016-02-20

    Owen,

    Regardless of what has been going on in the legislature I do feel we should pay our legislators more. Otherwise for many it will be a large financial sacrifice prohibiting many from serving and like teachers working beyond normal school hours they are working well beyond the legislative session. As David Novstrup said you will end up with those who are retired or those who can afford to serve which can negatively affect how they serve.

  7. grudznick 2016-02-20

    Mr. reitzel is right. Righter than right. Besides Mr. Kaiser, who’s employer lets them take 3 months off work to go gallivant around Pierre eating and drinking for free unless that employee is on orders to put forward nefarious plans that help the employer.

  8. Jenny 2016-02-20

    The pay rate for legislators should have been raised years ago. SD would have better quality reps than the weirdos they have now.

  9. Rorschach 2016-02-20

    David Novstrup did in fact make the case for electing Democrats. Surely Al explained to him afterward to not volunteer information and only to give name, rank and serial number.

  10. Rorschach 2016-02-20

    How does Mr. Greenfield spend his non-legislative session time these days, besides talking with Davy who’s still in the navy? Does he live in his mother’s basement?

  11. Jenny 2016-02-20

    Brock Greenfield does seem like a Mama’s boy, and I’m sure Mama thinks her boy can do no wrong.
    South Dakota’s finest!

  12. Rorschach 2016-02-20

    Brock Greenfield is a 40 year old bachelor. I’m wondering what he does for a living. How does he support himself, if in fact he does support himself?

  13. larry kurtz 2016-02-20

    Greenfield/Endrizzi: this stuff writes its own self.

  14. grudznick 2016-02-20

    Mr. Rorschach, the answers to some of your questions should be self evident.

  15. grudznick 2016-02-20

    Mr. H, when you say “both of SD’s parent/child duos” you don’t intentionally leave out Don Haggar and Jenna Haggar or Ray Ring and Lynn DiSanto, do you?

  16. Jenny 2016-02-20

    Minneapolis is always accepting of those SD bachelors that never married. Well, you know…..it doesn’t have to be kept a secret here. We’re very accepting.

  17. Rorschach 2016-02-20

    Ring and DiSanto. The hell you say!

  18. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-02-20

    Oh! I forgot the Haggars… but are Ring and DiSanto related?

  19. grudznick 2016-02-20

    You don’t see the family resemblance? The shape of the skull?

  20. owen reitzel 2016-02-20

    I don’t have a problem with paying legislatures more money-after they take of teachers. Seems a little hypocritical to me if they don’t
    Also Lynn we are there now. The only people who are in Pierre are the retired, the rich or the self employed. Dave Novstrup said it well and now we have a bunch of Republicans making bad decisions.
    In other words elect Democrats to balance things out.

  21. Madman 2016-02-20

    DiSanto had an interesting facebook post on the lowest paying jobs and justifying that was the reason not to pay teacher’s more. Quite a few people and she herself cited that South Dakota’s low cost of living was a huge factor in pay. What most people don’t realize is that we rank 30th and above average in the cost of things like groceries.

    30th in Cost of Living, Dead Last in Paying Workers.

  22. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-02-21

    DiSanto also ignores that Governor has joined me in completely debunking the cost-of-living argument. SDBPI blew that argument apart two years ago, showing that South Dakota teachers have the lowest purchasing power in the region. DiSanto also ignores that the Legislature has a Constitutional obligation to maintain a free and fair education system which depends on hiring quality teachers. The argument about other low-paying jobs is irrelevant to the Legislature’s mandate to defend and support K-12 education.

  23. Brandi 2016-02-21

    DiSanto seems quite content to be misinformed. She seems much more concerned about posting selfies and counting ‘likes’ on her Facebook page. Her contradiction? Boasts about how many likes she has on FB then stands up Saturday and asks why people would think she’d make decisions based upon comments on her Facebook page. I wonder if any other legislators who spoke around the state yesterday mentioned Facebook. I doubt it.

  24. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-02-21

    She said that? Wow—crazy how glibly some legislators will contradict themselves to suit the argument of the moment.

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