Special Session costs Va. taxpayers more money daily than many make annually

Posted at 7:23 PM, Mar 24, 2014
and last updated 2014-03-24 19:23:46-04

RICHMOND, VA (WTVR) -- Virginia lawmakers are back in Richmond for a special session of the General Assembly, attempting to pass

Lawmakers failed to come to an agreement on the Commonwealth's budget during its normal 60 day session, with Democrats demanding Medicaid expansion and Republicans objecting to it.

The special session is intended as an opportunity for legislators to reach a compromise.

While both sides appeared resolute in their positions Monday, the cost for legislative overtime is now becoming more clear.

According to G. Paul Nardo, Clerk of the House of Delegates, each day that the 140 members are present during the special session costs Virginia $40,999 dollars.

That number factors in $25,200 in per diems, and $15,799 for mileage for a one round trip to Richmond.

The current per diem each member is entitled to is $180 dollars a day. Each lawmaker is allowed to be reimbursed for one round-trip a week.

The last time a special session was called, in 2006, the total cost for the three-day long session was $79,685.52.

Most at Capital Square anticipate the budget impasse to last longer that three days this go around.

Cutting down on expenses is the expectation that the General Assembly will enter pro-forma session if a deal is not reached soon,  a procedure that will allow most lawmakers to go home with only leadership and budget conferees sticking around to negotiate a compromise.

According to G. Paul Nardo, it is customary that Legislative Assistants do not receive a session expense allowance during Special Session.

We asked area Senator Walter Stosch, who represents part of Hanover and Henrico counties,  if he will accept a per diem and he said most local delegates and senators will not, including himself.

But Stauch defended those who will to CBS 6 political reporter Joe St. George.

"There are people who use that per diem to pay for their hotels," Stosch said.