Lawmakers make bank, while some proposed a salary reduction - - Jackson, MS

Lawmakers make bank, while some proposed a salary reduction

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By Ashley Conroy

JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - While state agencies are being asked to cut their budgets, and school districts try to determine whether they will be forced to lay off teachers, state lawmakers still get their pay.

A typical Monday for lawmakers starts around 3:00 or 4:00 o'clock in the afternoon for Senate and House of Representatives. Both branches of government are paid a per diem salary of $91 a day for food and lodging expenses.

In addition, they also see a stipend for every mile they travel to get to the capital city. For instance, if they travel from northern Mississippi, they would see more than a local lawmaker.

Overall, from 2008 to 2009, State Senators saw roughly $2.8 million dollars total, and about $1.37 million was for mileage and per diem.

In the House, they saw an estimated $6.05 million dollars from 2008 to 2009, and about $2.8 million came was distributed for mileage and per diem.

State Senator, Giles proposed Senate Bill 2506, a piece of legislation that would reduce lawmaker's salaries by 10 percent.

"I filed this bill simply because I knew we were going to be facing some serious budget issues as we develop a budget for next year," Senator Ward said.

However, this bill died in committee before making it to the House floor. As a result, Senator Giles decided to reduce his salary by 10 percent because he says it is the right thing to do.

"I took it upon myself to take a 10-percent salary reduction, not just for this year, but for whole term," Senator Ward said.

Meanwhile, Representative Henry Zuber says he didn't know what his per diem amount was and that it doesn't matter to him because he's not there for the money.

"Is it a fair amount? To be honest, and to be blunt. I don't even know what that pier diem is." Zuber continued, "I didn't run for the salary, I ran to make a difference."

Meanwhile, Senator Ward says he will continue to propose this legislation as long as the state is in a budget crisis.

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