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Legislature's Costs Soar to $96.3 Million

October 04, 1987|United Press International

SACRAMENTO — The Legislature spent $96.3 million on its own operations last year for a 9.5% annual increase, figures released by both houses show.

Legislative spending has increased 31.5% since 1983, the year before voters approved Proposition 24, the Paul Gann initiative that was designed to cut legislative spending by 30%. The initiative was declared unconstitutional in 1984 by a Sacramento County Superior Court judge.

Legislative expenditures for the fiscal year ending Nov. 30, 1986--the most recent figures available--included $14 million for a new computer system linking legislators' district offices around the state with the Capitol.

The 80-member Assembly spent $54.7 million on its operations and the 40-member Senate spent $41.6 million.

The figures included staff salaries, legislative salaries and daily expense money, travel costs, costs of leasing and maintaining cars used by legislators, telephone bills, postage and newsletters.

In addition to their salaries of $37,105 annually, lawmakers receive expenses of $75 a day, seven days a week, during the seven months the Legislature is in session each year. For most legislators, that amounted to more than $16,000 in tax-free expense money last year.

Although he represents a Sacramento suburb a few miles from the Capitol, Democratic Sen. Leroy Greene collected $16,650 in daily expense money.

Funds Taken, Skipped

One of Sacramento's two Assembly members, Democrat Lloyd Connelly, collected $15,825 in daily expense payments. The other assemblyman, Democrat Phil Isenberg, did not collect expense money.

Assembly Speaker Willie Brown (D-San Francisco) reported spending a total of $1.4 million, including $1.3 million in staff salaries, $22,000 for staff travel, $1,170 for car rental, $10,356 for postage and $32,454 on phones.

Senate President Pro Tem David Roberti (D-Los Angeles) reported total expenses of $462,714, including $250,000 for employee salaries and benefits.

While Brown was the biggest-spending Assembly member, Roberti's expenses were exceeded by Senate Republican Leader Ken Maddy of Fresno, who spent $569,738.

Former Democratic Assemblyman Frank Vicencia of Bellflower, who did not run for reelection last year, spent the least of any full-term assemblyman--$161,780. Most of the 80 members spent about $250,000.

In the 40-member Senate, where members' districts are twice as large, most lawmakers spent about $400,000. The smallest amount, $285,164, was spent by Jim Ellis (R-San Diego).

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