No per diem increase for state lawmakers
PHOENIX -- State lawmakers have given up in their bid to hike their daily living allowance, at least this year.
"I'm done,' said Rep. Bruce Wheeler, D-Tucson. Wheeler, who had been working his party members while Rep. David Stevens, R-Sierra Vista, said there's just not the support in either party, especially for the huge increase that had been proposed.
Legislators who live within 50 miles of the Capitol get $35 a day; those from farther off get $65. Stevens and Wheeler had proposed linking the payments to federal per diem allowances, a move that would have boosted the payments to about $98 and $163 respectively -- and adjusted automatically every time the federal rate went up.
"Those numbers were just unacceptably too high,' Wheeler said. "It wasn't going to work.'
Wheeler said he has no plans to recraft the measure with lower figures.
"I came here for education and other things, not for per diem increases,' he said.
Wheeler said there is a legitimate need for more money, at least for lawmakers who have to maintain a second residence for the nearly four months the Legislature is in session and then to come to the Capitol for other meetings.