Special session costs nearly $60,000 in its first week

Saturday, June 7, 2003

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- After a contentious first week of a special legislative session on the budget, there was at least some encouraging fiscal news out of the Capitol -- the cost of having lawmakers back at work was less than expected.

The House and Senate spent a combined $59,796.08 during the session called by Democratic Gov. Bob Holden to reconsider the state budget.

Those costs were below the $98,785 state officials had estimated it would cost to have all lawmakers at work for five days.

Lawmakers did not work Friday, and both chambers worked on abbreviated schedules during the week because the legislative process did not require everyone's presence at all times.

The full Senate met on the opening day of the special session while the full House did not meet until Thursday, when it passed its version of the budget.

Missouri lawmakers receive an allowance of $75.20 per day on top of their travel reimbursement of 33.5 cents a mile and their regular salaries of $31,351 annually.

Not counting lawmakers' salaries, which they would have received anyway, the House spent $53,691.24 in the first week of the special session. That includes $34,742.40 for daily allowances and $15,192.24 for mileage expenses, according to the House accounting office. The House also paid $3,625.50 in staff costs that included the House chaplain, reader and doorkeepers. Another $131.10 was spent on paper.

Of the 163 House members, 60 collected daily allowances from Monday through Thursday while another 26 chose to receive a daily allowance only on Thursday.

Steve Davis, the chief clerk of the House, said some lawmakers chose to show up in Jefferson City, but decided not to seek reimbursement.

Rep. Margaret Donnelly, D-St. Louis, was the only lawmaker who was officially listed by the House as refusing to accept reimbursement, though Davis said there were other lawmakers who did so on an informal basis.

Donnelly said Friday that she didn't feel it was appropriate to receive compensation while working on the ailing budget.

"We're in a very tight financial situation and I elected to forgo this week's per diem and mileage," Donnelly said. "It was just an individual decision."

The Senate tab for the first week of the special session was $6,014.84, according to the Senate accounting office.

Thirty-two senators were paid a total of $2,406.86 in daily allowances for Monday, the opening day of the special legislative session, according to the Senate accounting office.

Mileage, meanwhile, accounted for $2,717.86. Costs for staff such as doorkeepers, the reader and chaplain, added $890.58 to the Senate bill.

The only senator who did not receive any reimbursement for work on Monday was Sen. Pat Dougherty, a St. Louis Democrat who was absent with leave from the chamber.

The Senate met sparingly during the week because the House was dealing with the budget. The 13-member Senate Appropriations Committee will begin considering the House-passed bills Monday afternoon.

The seven-member Senate Ways and Means Committee is also scheduled to meet Monday to consider tax revenue bills. The full Senate isn't expected back to work until Wednesday, at the earliest.

Sen. James Mathewson, D-Sedalia, sponsored a measure allowing lawmakers to forgo their daily expense payments. The measure was sent to a Senate committee for consideration.

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On the Net

  • Missouri Legislature: http://moga.state.mo.us

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