Taxpayers Foot Hefty Bill

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Mississippians paid more than $17 million in legislative salaries and other compensation during a nearly 12-month period in which lawmakers were called to the Capitol for special sessions on lawsuit limitations, economic development bonds and Medicaid.

According to a report from the state auditor's office, total spending by the 122-member House was nearly $10 million between May 16, 2004 and April 30, 2005.

The Senate with 52 members spent $5.9 million. The amount paid for Joint Legislative Operations, which includes legislative staff, was $1.5 million.

The 2005 total compares with $18.1 million spent between May 2003 to May 15, 2004.

Gov. Haley Barbour called special sessions during the most recent reporting period, when lawmakers failed to finish some business in the regular session. Special sessions raised the cost to taxpayers.