Special Sessions Add Half-Million Dollars to Budget Woes

Alexandra Gutierrez/APRN

Lawmakers collected nearly $200,000 in per Diem over the course of two special sessions, according to a preliminary tally by the Legislature’s accounting office. Per Diem is meant to cover food and lodging expenses, and it is federally set. It was paid at a rate of $233 per day in Juneau and $295 in Anchorage.

While any legislator could apply for the allowance those who did not live within driving distance of Anchorage were more likely to take it. Sen. Donny Olson, a Nome Democrat who serves on the finance committee, was the top collector. He filed for 44 days, amounting to an $11,439 payment.

Though the majority of Anchorage and Mat-Su legislators declined per Diem during the second special session, Anchorage Sen. Lesil McGuire collected $7,347 and Senate Rules Chair Charlie Huggins, a Wasilla Republican, received $6,329, with most of his per Diem collected while in Anchorage. 

In Kodiak’s delegation, Senator Gary Stevens received $6,108, while Representative Louise Stutes collected only $2,129.

As of last week, the total cost of the two special sessions, which were called to address the budget deficit, exceeded half a million dollars.

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