A Close Look at Legislators' Pay

By: Ashley Conroy Email
By: Ashley Conroy Email

When Mississippi legislators meet, taxpayers foot the bill. Each lawmaker gets a per diem of $91 for food and lodging.

"Is it a fair amount? To be honest, and to be blunt, I don't even know what that pier diem is," said Republican Sen. Henry Zuber of Jackson.

Lawmakers see this money regardless of where they travel from,even if they're local.

Combined, from 2008 to 2009, state senators saw roughly $2.8 million a year. Of that, $1.37 million was for mileage and per diem.

House members, because they are a larger group, saw an estimated $6.05 million. About $2.8 million came from mileage and per diem.

Lawmakers get $10,000 in session and $15,000 out of session, plus the other costs. It equals thousands and thousands of dollars every year.

That's why some lawmakers proposed a bill that would reduce their 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," said Sen. Giles Ward.

That piece of legislation didn't make it to the House floor.

Because of that, ward, is reducing his salary on his own.

"I took it upon myself to take a 10 percent salary reduction," Ward said.

But at the end of the day... Whether they realize what they're making or not, some lawmakers say they're not there for the money.

"I didn't run for the salary," said Zuber. "I ran to make a difference."

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