Sask. MLAs in standoff over pay cuts

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A standoff over pay cuts for politicians continues at the Saskatchewan Legislature, with the government threatening to change the law that requires Opposition members to vote on the measure. 

Both government and Opposition MLAs have agreed to a 3.5 per cent pay cut, but the two sides do not agree on additional measures.

The Opposition says cabinet ministers should take a bigger hit because they presided over the government's current financial situation.

It wants cabinet ministers to take an additional 20 per cent cut to the $49,000 they receive on top of their $96,000 base MLA salary.

Economy Minister Jeremy Harrison, who sits on the board of internal economy, which votes on MLA salaries, said cabinet ministers are already paying a higher price.

"We're taking $5,100 reduction versus $3,300 for MLAs who don't have ministerial responsibilities," Harrison told reporters.

"What a joke," scoffed Opposition leader Trent Wotherspoon. "I mean, it probably highlights why we're in the financial mess that we are. It's Sask. Party math; it doesn't add up. They're paid more."

With the two sides in disagreement, the Opposition has been refusing to show up for the board of internal economy meetings to vote on the proposal.

On Thursday, the government gave notice that it will introduce a bill to change the rules requiring Opposition members be present to vote on the changes.

"We would only utilize that provision for the reduction of the salaries and the caucus office grants," said Harrison. "We're hopeful that that's not going to have to happen but if the Opposition refuses to come to the board, that's what's going to happen."

The government said it will also cut the grants that each caucus receives by 10 per cent. It said that will save an extra $190,000.

Harrison said the government will use its majority to make the changes it wants as soon as next week.