Minn. Senate interns to go unpaid

Paying interns costs the Senate $60,000 each session.

Kevin Burbach

Due to budget cuts in the Minnesota State Senate, student legislative interns will no longer get paid âÄî effective immediately.

Funding for the Senate internship program is being cut, which means that although college students can still intern for the Senate, they will no longer get paid, said Steve Sviggum, communications director for the Senate Republican Caucus. Sviggum is also a member of the University of MinnesotaâÄôs Board of Regents.

Sviggum said the Senate budget was finalized Tuesday, the first day of the legislative session and that the Senate didnâÄôt have money for the program.

Reimbursing interns costs the Senate about $120,000 a biennium, or $60,000 each session, Sviggum said.

Although the money is gone, Sviggum said the internship program remains intact.

âÄúThey will still be having their internship and their on-the-job training, but there wonâÄôt be any reimbursement,âÄù Sviggum said.

Sviggum said cuts came from a 5 percent cut that was mandated the previous session.

The Senate cut about $2.67 million from its budget, including several full-time staff positions from the Democratic-Farmer-Labor minority caucus. The budget âÄî drawn up by Republican legislators âÄî did not cut any Republican staff positions, which left DFL legislators fuming Tuesday.

House of Representatives intern positions are also unpaid, Sviggum said. He said he didnâÄôt think House interns had ever been paid in the past.