By Daniel Stefanski |
As the Arizona legislative session drags on into the summer months, Senate leaders are issuing guidance over lawmakers’ per diems.
On Monday, the Senate Majority Leadership team sent out correspondence over per diems – specifically, legislators’ “opportunity to opt out of ‘per diem’ or subsistence payments during this current legislative break.”
The release states that “Members of the Legislature earn an annual salary of $24,000 per year for their service. However, A.R.S § 41- 1104 allows members to collect subsistence pay for each day the Legislature is in session, which may be used on living expenses, such as lodging and meals. After 120 days of session, which was May 9, members who live in Maricopa County collect $10 per day, while members who live outside of Maricopa County collect $119 per day.”
According to the Senate Republicans, under subsection D of A.R.S § 41-1104, ‘each member of the Legislature may elect to opt out of receiving subsistence payments.’ “At the time the Legislator submits a request to opt out of their subsistence payments, they may identify an end date for that request.”
The Arizona Senate Democrats Caucus quickly pounced on the release, calling it a “stunt:” This stunt proves two things: 1) Republicans have acted irresponsibly and are trying to shift blame. 2) We must sine die immediately. This will be the longest session in our state’s history – it’s time to close the door on session and stop holding members hostage.”
The Arizona Senate Republicans Caucus Twitter account responded to the accusation, posting, “Says the Caucus who turned a blind eye to Mendez collecting his per diem last session without ever coming to the Senate to do the job his constituents elected him to do. Nice virtue signaling though!!”
Senate Republicans used the release to announce their plans to bring Members back into session, writing, “The Senate adjourned on the evening of Tuesday, June 13 and will reconvene on Monday, July 31. If all 30 members receive subsistence pay during this eight-week period, this would cost the State a total of $83,944, before taxes. However, had the Legislative session ended the week of June 13, the maximum cost to the State would have been a total of $36,960, as members may receive subsistence payments during the interim.”
Daniel Stefanski is a reporter for AZ Free News. You can send him news tips using this link.