Originally created 02/19/03

Senate votes for legislative pay cut

ATLANTA -- Georgia senators voted Tuesday to take a 10 percent pay cut to show voters they are willing to share the pain of state spending cuts.

The step doesn't save much money - about $800,000 over two years - but was promoted by leaders of the Senate's new Republican majority as an important signal to send during the state's budget problems.

Senate Republican Leader Tom Price of Roswell told fellow lawmakers the action shows that in seeking ways to trim spending, "We are willing to look in the mirror first."

Democrats thought the step was fine but challenged the Republicans to save even more money by trimming back the daily lodging money given to all legislators, including those who live within the metro Atlanta area.

Georgia lawmakers are paid a $128 allowance for each of the 40 days they are in session, in addition to their annual salaries of $16,200 a year. Of the daily allowance, $93 is for lodging and the rest for food.

Democrats proposed withholding the $93 lodging allowance from lawmakers who live within 50 miles of the Capitol, suggesting those lawmakers probably just pocket the money while driving back and forth from their homes.

Republicans accused them of trying to divide the Senate based on geography and offered a counter proposal which requires all lawmakers, no matter where they live, to submit receipts to claim the lodging allowance.

That passed, and the measure now goes to the House.

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